Get to Know Your Neighbors

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Jifna: The village of Jifna lies around 5 km north of Ramallah on the road to Beir Zeit. This small scenic village lies on the old Roman road connecting Jerusalem to Nablus, and it was considered at the time the second most important city after Jerusalem. It was once an important Roman – Byzantine city known as Gophna of Josefus. Today this little village is a beautiful summer escape. The village has two churches. The Latin church built in 1859 stands opposite an old Byzantine Church known as St. George’s church. A winery was also found in the eastern border of the village. There are two small citadels in the village whose origins are attributed to the crusaders or the Muslims.

Bittin: The Palestinian village of Beitin is located about 5 km northeast of Ramallah. Also known as the Bethel (House of God) of the old Testament, archaological finding in the village have dated back to the Chalcolithic Period and include pottery and fint tools. Byzantines built a church and monastery here that the Crusaders turned into their stronghold, and later Salah Eddin into a mosque in 1892. An old tower, known as the tower of Beitin is believed to be the site where Abraham, on his way from Hebron to Nablus, built an altar. It is also believed to be the site where Jacob dreamt of a ladder reaching up to Heaven.

Taybeh: Located a few Km east of Ramallah some 30 km north east of Jerusalem between Jerusalem and Jericho, is the Palestinian Christian village of Taybeh. Sitting on Mount Asur, with a population of nearly 1400, Taybeh is a predominantly Christian village. Recently Taybeh became as home to the only Palestinian Beer; Taybeh Beer. Every year in October, the village hosts locals and international visitors for the annual Taybeh Beer Festival. Besides this modern fame, Taybeh is also rich in history and culture. The famous Saint George Church which dates back to the Byzantine period is located in the center of the town. Visitors can admire its ruins behind Melkite (Greek Orthodox) church. Next the Church, ancient mosaics were recently uncovered.

Birzeit: Located 4 miles north of Ramallah is Birzeit which literally translates to “Well of (olive) oil referring to the wells in which inhabitants historically stored virgin pressed olive oil. With a population of some 6000, Birzeit is also famous for it university, one of Palestine’s flagship educational institutes. Founded in 1924, Birzeit University is the largest and most important university in Palestine. Much of the surrounding land consists of olive trees which historically was a source of sustenance for what was primarily an agrarian society. This has led to a business expansion within the town consisting of several restaurants, cafes, internet cafes, and salons.

About the author: Sameh Verified icon 1 Verified icon 2 Verified icon 3 Verified icon 4 Verified icon 7 Verified icon 8
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