Orient Tourist Bureau
Your Way To The Holy Land

Nablus

West Bank

Nablus, also known as the 'Uncrowned Queen of Palestine,' is situated 60 km north of Jerusalem, between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. As one of Palestine's largest cities, Nablus has lots to offer. The city is famous for its sweets, traditional olive oil soap, and busy markets. Nablus is also home to much of Palestine's industry and commerce. Among the main attractions in Nablus are Jacob's Well and the Old City of Nablus.

Nablus' rich history lies in its Old City with its distinct stone facades, beautiful architecture, narrow streets and old urban spaces. The population of the old city today numbers around 20,000. There are two churches, twelve mosques, and a Samaritan synagogue in and around the densely populated residential areas.

The areas in and around Nablus are also filled with sites to visit. The Palestinian village of Sebastya lies 12 km north of Nablus. Other major Palestinian cities such as Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqilya are also near Nablus in the north of the country.


Nablus is one of the oldest cities in the world, possibly first established 9000 years ago. It was originally called "Shechem" by its Canaanite and Israelite inhabitants. The Romans built a new city (Flavia Neapolis, in honor of Flavius Vespasian) a short distance from Shechem. The name Nablus comes from Neapolis. The old city of Nablus is located on the site of Neapolis, but in modern times the city has grown to include the site of Shechem as well.

Nablus is distinguished by its location in a narrow valley between the two mountains Gerizim and Ebal. This makes for an impressive view when you are within the city itself.

Schools were first established in the middle of the 19th century during the short reign of Ibrahim Pasha, but maintained their existence in the following years when the Ottomans regained control of the region. On 11 July 1927 the town suffered a major earthquake. Much of the consequent damage to buildings was never repaired, and the ruinous condition of many of them may well have encouraged the inhabitants to move outside the old city to build their new houses, although some new building to the north and west of the old city had already been undertaken before 1927. The arrival of the motor car has increased emigration to the slopes of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, where new roads allow vehicles the easy access denied them in the hilly and partly-stepped streets of the old city.

During the British Mandate (1918-1948), Nablus became the core of Arab-Palestinian Nationalism, and it was the center of resistance against the British. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Nablus was occupied by Jordan, and 2 refugee camps were built near the city. In 1967, during the six days war, Nablus was occupied by the Israeli army, the infrastructure of the city was damaged and 3 refugee camps were added to accommodate the people who fled to the city. Jurisdiction over the city was handed over to the Palestinian National Authority on December 12, 1995, as a result of the Oslo Accords Interim Agreement on the West Bank.

During the Second Intifada (2000-2006) Nablus was a center of violence between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian militant groups. There are many damaged buildings and debris-filled fields around Nablus, the result of past Israeli attacks, but today most of the damage was repaired. Israeli restrictions on the city are generally looser than they used to be, and a visit to Nablus in the daytime is a safe and worthwhile trip.

Religion

The majority of Nablus' inhabitants today are Muslim, but there are small Christian and Samaritan communities as well. Much of the local Palestinian Muslim population of Nablus is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. There are seventeen Islamic monuments and eleven mosques in the Old City. Nine of the mosques were established before the 15th century. In addition to Muslim houses of worship, Nablus contains an Orthodox church dedicated Saint Justin Martyr, built in 1898 and the ancient Samaritan synagogue, which is still in use.