It is a group of ruins above a village of the same name that is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places located in the West Bank.
A prominent settlement during the Hellenistic and Roman eras, Christians and Muslims knew Sebastia to be the burial site of St John the Baptist. Situated on a hill with panoramic views across the West Bank, the site contains an amphitheater (which once held around 7000 people) and the remains of a Byzantine church.
St John’s grave was desecrated in the mid-4th century and his bones partly burned, with surviving portions taken to Jerusalem and later to Alexandria, Egypt, where they were interred at a Coptic monastery. A mosque complex in the village contains a shrine to St John and a small museum.
Despite obvious neglect (many of the ruins are strewn with trash and some are daubed with graffiti), It is an essential stop on a West Bank itinerary for history buffs. For the less archaeologically inclined, it is a peaceful place to walk among the olive groves and take in sensational views.