Ramallah is a fascinating urban center for all visitors interested in political and social issues, since many institutions of Palestinian government and non-governmental organizations and diplomatic missions are based here. An effervescent cultural scene contributes to Ramallah’s truly unique atmosphere. Today, Ramallah is seen as the cultural and political center of Palestine. With its lively town center, museums, art galleries, theatres, parks, a booming restaurant scene and a bustling nightlife, Ramallah is a fast-growing cosmopolitan town.
BEROT – AL-BIREH
Ramallah’s twin-city, al-Bireh, was first built by the Canaanites around 3500 BC. According to Christian tradition, Joseph and Mary rested in al-Bireh on their way from Jerusalem to Galilee when they discovered that Jesus was missing. A Crusader church, known as the Church of the Holy Family, marks the spot where they stopped on their return from Passover in Jerusalem.
EIN KENYA NATURE RESERVE
A beautiful nature reserve 7-km northwest of Ramallah, Ein Kenya is named after its natural springs. A variety of wild plants, birds and animals make Ein Kenya a great place for walks, picnics and hiking.
Located at the southern entrance of al-Bireh, Tell al-Nasbah is an important Bronze Age Site. Visible ruins include a gate dating back to the ninth century BC, a massive wall, the remains of a Byzantine church and an Ottoman Khan. Tell al-Nasbah is believed to be the site where Saul was crowned king.
Beitin is an ancient village located on the outskirts of al-Bireh. Habitation in Beitin dates back to prehistoric times and excavations have uncovered flint tools, pottery and animal bones dating back to the 5th century BC. 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. Beitin was a prosperous town during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. The remains of a Hellenistic tower and a Byzantine monastery are still visible.
ABOUD AND JIFNA
Located near Birzeit, Jifna is a small scenic village that was once an important Roman-Byzantine city.
Previously known as Gophna of Josephus, Jifna was a regional capital during the first century AD. Today, Jifna is a popular summer resort, offering a variety of fine out-door restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
Nearby Aboud village is a hidden gem of Palestine, with one of the oldest continuously-functioning Byzantine churches in Palestine, multiple Byzantine ruins and amazing valley trails with plentiful olive trees.
Located 20km north of Ramallah, Birzeit’s fame is due to Birzeit University. Founded in 1924, Birzeit is the largest and most important university in the West Bank and is one of Palestine’s fastest-growing cities.
Located a few kilometers north of Nabi Samwil, the picturesque village of al-Jib is the site of the Biblical city of Gibeon. In the seventh century, Gibeon was a prosperous wine-producing city. Excavations in the area have uncovered 63 wine cellars, each capable of storing 42 large barrels of wine. Other interesting excavations include a well-preserved ancient water system.