Things to Do in Sebastia

One of the earliest continually inhabited locations in the West Bank is thought to be the group of ruins known as sebastia, which are located above the same-named settlement.

Sebastia was a well-known city throughout the Hellenistic and Roman eras and is regarded by both Christians and Muslims as the location of St. John the Baptist’s tomb. The location has an amphitheatre (which previously housed 7000 people), the ruins of a Byzantine cathedral, and expansive views over the West Bank from its hilltop location.

The remains of St. John’s bones were carried to Jerusalem and eventually to Alexandria, Egypt, where they were placed at a Coptic monastery after his burial was desecrated and partially burned in the middle of the fourth century. In the town of Sebastia, a mosque complex houses a modest museum and a St. John shrine (8am to 3pm Sunday to Thursday).

Despite evident disrepair (many of the remains are covered with debris, and some have graffiti daubed on them), Sebastia is a must-visit location when traveling through the West Bank for history aficionados. For others who are less interested in archaeology, it is a tranquil location to stroll among the olive trees and take in the breathtaking scenery.

Sebastia is located 11 kilometers from Nablus; a cab ride will cost around 150 NIS.

To the northwest of the city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, lies one of the most significant archaeological sites that must be seen. This historic site was formerly inhabited by primitive humans during the Bronze Age, which is when it first became an archaeological monument. From the time of the Canaanites through the time of the Romans, who constructed the entire city and dubbed it Sebastia, the region has seen numerous changes and historical occurrences.


a word from Greek meaning distinctive. The existence of several huge columns, the Roman amphitheater, tombs, and numerous other structures that attest to Sebastia’s greatness as a Roman city define the archaeological region. The city had an earthquake in the year 1330 AD, and the damage it sustained is still visible today.

Nabi Yahya Mosque

is a mosque that houses John the Baptist’s traditional tomb. The prophets Elisha and Obadiah, who were interred adjacent to John the Baptist, also have graves in the mosque.

In the Palestinian community of Sebastia, close to Nablus, it serves as the major mosque. It is situated on the village’s main plaza. It is built with substantial buttressed walls. The little domed structure has a stairway that descends into a cave within its courtyard.

The Nabi Yahya Mosque is located on the spot where John the Baptist’s disciples are said to have interred their leader’s remains in Byzantine times. “His followers came and carried away [John’s] body and buried it,” according to Matthew. The Byzantine period saw the construction of a church on the site of the burial.

Sebastia Roman Ruins

The Sebastia Roman Ruins are a part of the sightseeing category and are situated inside Sebastia. Where it witnessed many historical events and different periods of rule, such as: Canaanite, Israeli, Hellenistic, Herodian, Roman, Byzantine, and its most prominent era was during the Roman era, which witnessed an increase in the effects and landmarks of the Roman era, until it was called “the capital of the Romans in Palestine.” The city was called “Shomron” during the reign of King Herod, but its name was changed to “Sabastia” in honor of King Augustus. 

Temple of Augustus

Sebastia contains the Temple of Augustus, which falls under the category of Ruins. Herod the Great receives Samaria from Roman emperor Augustus. Herod the Great rebuilds the city as a Roman gentile city and gives it the new name Sebaste (Greek for Augustus) in honor of his patron. He also constructs new fortifications and a large temple to the god Augustus. These stairs went up to a colonnaded portico and the temple’s entrance. An altar for sacrifices was located in the courtyard at the foot of the stairs.

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