In Hebrew, Nablus (or Shekhem) is a city in the West Bank. The majority of people living in the city and its environs are Arab. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel took possession of Nablus; however, since 1995, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority has been in charge of the city. It is one of the main urban centers on the West Bank, with a population of 135,000. It is a significant economic hub, well-known for producing wood, pottery, soap, and olive oil. It is also famous for its delectable “knafeh” dessert and is the location of the prestigious Al Najah University.
The Geography and History of Nablus
Geographically, it is situated between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, some 60 kilometers (45 miles) north of Jerusalem. It lies at the center of a natural oasis that is nourished by several springs and is situated in the heart of a productive valley. Due to its location at the intersection of two ancient economic routes, one connecting the Sharon coastal plain to the Jordan Valley and the other connecting it to Judea in the south and the Galilee in the north, the city of Nablus has historically held a key position. Flavia Neapolis was the name given to it when Vespasian, the Roman emperor, established it in 72 CE.
It now has a thriving business district with a lot to offer tourists. It is on the West Bank, thus guests should take certain precautions because of it. However, it is undoubtedly safe to visit, however we advise taking a private trip because having a guide who speaks Arabic and is familiar with the region is vital. We’ll look at the top sights in this historic city and what you should do there to make the most of your time. Since it’s only a short drive from Jerusalem, it makes for the perfect day trip.
The Old City
The Old City, which is located in the center of Nablus, is crowded with people and home to many well-known local families. There are six quarters that make up this city: Habala, Qaysariyya, Aqaba, Yasmina, Gharb, and Qaryun. There is a lot for visitors to see, such as:
Mosques – The Old City is home to several mosques, including as the Great Mosque, the Al-Khadra, the Al-Abnia, and the Ajaj. The Great Mosque, the oldest and greatest of these structures, was initially constructed by the Crusaders as a Byzantine church. In the Islamic era, it was transformed into a mosque following Saladin’s invasion. It features a silver dome and a large, rectangular floor.
The Abd al-Haid Palace is a white limestone structure that was constructed in the 19th century as a home for the Abd al-Haid family. It features several secret passageways, quiet courtyards, balconies, and gardens.
Abdullah Pasha, an Ottoman commander, constructed the enormous Al Nimr Palace, which is located in the Habala neighborhood.
Jacob’s Well, Balata
This is a deep well made of rock that has been linked to Jacob in the Bible for around 2000 years. It is located in the complex of a church on the grounds of an old Eastern Orthodox monastery. By entering the church and decending the stairs into the crypt, one may reach the well.
This is where it is, with a bucket, a little winch, some icons and candles, and a narrow aperture, partly built of limestone. Documents created by Pilgrims demonstrate that Jacob’s Well has been located within many churches on the same place, at various times.
You may still see the ruins of an old Canaanite city in Tel Balata. It was a significant cultural and historical center in antiquity and is located about 2.5 kilometres from Nablus’ center. In addition to fertile soil and a lot of rainfall in the winter, the area contains several water sources. There are still a number of remnants that may be viewed, including the hilltop “castle,” which was formerly a temple, two sizable gates, enormous city walls, and a governor’s mansion (which boasted guardrooms, living quarters, a kitchen and even a small private shrine).
Joseph’s Tomb, Balata
Although there is no conclusive archaeological evidence to support this, some people think that Joseph’s Tomb, which lies adjacent to Tel Balata and just north of Jacob’s Well, is where he was interred. It could have been a Samaritan place thousands of years ago, but after Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967, Jews started worshipping there once more. It is situated inside an Ottoman-era structure distinguished by a white dome.
Remains of Sebastiya (Ancient Samaria)
This Palestinian community, which is roughly 12 kilometers northwest of Nablus, has about 4,500 residents. It now has some ancient sites and was previously home to several Israelite tribes, according to the Hebrew Bible. A sarcophagus may be seen adjacent to the road, and to the north of the location is a sizable cemetery full of rock-cut graves. There are a few modest abandoned mills and springs in the area. A minority of the locals are Greek Christians, with the majority of them being Muslims.
The Hasmoneans constructed this historic hilltop castle, and the Jordan Valley may be seen in breathtaking detail from its summit. Since there is no paved road, getting to the place is not the simplest, thus only experienced hikers should attempt it. A four-wheel-drive jeep is another option for getting there.
Before the First Temple was built, worshippers came to Shiloh, according to the Hebrew Bible. But it has a past that goes back much farther; in the Middle or Late Bronze Age, long before the Israelites came, it was a walled city with a temple.
Impressive remnants discovered during excavations that began in the 1920s demonstrate that Shiloh was inhabited at least as late as the 8th century. The ruins of Byzantine churches with beautiful mosaic flooring were discovered in the twenty-first century. In addition to showing flora, a cross, and three inscriptions, the patterns are geometric.