Today's Christian Towns

These towns are important to visit as they give a sense of Christianity today as a thriving religious group in the Christian Holy Land.

 

Ramallah/El Bireh

Sixteen miles north of Jerusalem, Ramallah is the capital of Palestine and it is known historically as the “Bride of Palestine” for its geographical beauty and pleasant, cool climate. During the 12th century the Crusaders built a stronghold and church here, and there are still remnants of a tower in the old part of town. Today it is a cosmopolitan town with museums, art galleries, theaters, parks and restaurants. The Quakers are centered here with their well-known English language schools. El Bireh, twin city to Ramallah, is older and known as a major stopping point on the road from Jerusalem to Galilee. It is probably the place where Mary and Joseph discovered Jesus missing when he was twelve. A folklore museum at the Ina’ash El Usra contains a collection of Bedouin and village clothing. 

Taybeh (Taibe)

Taybeh BeerThis village is near Ramallah and almost completely Christian. It was occupied as a holy place since the Canaanite period and is traditionally the village where Jesus fled after raising Lazarus from the dead. It is the home of a well-known microbrewery producing Taybeh beer, which is available all over the West Bank and beyond. There is also a Taybeh Winery, initiated in 2015 with the Nadim label. The town holds a German style October Fest in the fall where local products like olive oil, honey, soap and embroidery are sold. Palestinian and international musical groups perform and exchange ideas along with music.

Bir Zeit

The main interest in this town is the university begun by the Palestinian Christian Nassar family in the 1920s. It has a world-wide reputation and student body. With advanced contact you can meet with students to hear their concerns. They also publish an on-line website travel guide at http://www.birzeit.edu/ramallah with travel information for the region around the university.

Jifna (Gifna)

Along with Taybeh, Jifna is one of the few all-Christian villages remaining in the West Bank. According to popular culture, Mary and Joseph rested under the fig trees on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem on the Roman road passing through there. It is also believed, in tradition, that Judas Iscariot resided here. The name comes from the word "Gufna" meaning “vineyard” in Aramaic.

Aboud (‘Abud)

This village is known for the feast of St. Barbara on December 17. Although the cave memorial was destroyed in the late 1900s by the IDF, people still observe the saint’s day here. A special dish made of boiled, hulled wheat and called burbura is served on St. Barbara Day. 

Ramle

Ramle was a principal Arab city from the 8th century until Crusader times. It was known as the home of Joseph of Arimathea and pilgrims stayed there on the way from Jaffa to Jerusalem. It is the home of “Open House”, serving the local community as a day care center, an Arab-Jewish Parents’ Network and a Peace Camp for Jewish, Christian and Muslim youth. The story of the founding of Open House is told in the book The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tobin. It is the story of a Palestinian and a Jewish family who took over their house meeting and founding ‘Open House” as a sign of reconciliation and goodwill.

Woman Going To Market
Woman Going To Market

Zababde

Zababde is one of the few villages left in Israel itself with a Christian majority and is about a 40 minute drive from Nazareth. From here you can visit the excavations in the towns of Bourquin (10 lepers} and Dothan (sale of Old Testament Joseph). You can also meet with local people and explore folklore.

Ibillin

Ibillin is the home of the Mar Elias High School and College founded by Fr. Elias Chacour and open to people of all religions. The school has a student exchange program with several international universities, and the town has a memorial built in two semi-circles. One says in Hebrew “This is a memorial for the Palestinian Martyrs” and the other says in Arabic “This is a memorial for the Jewish Martyrs”. Shefar’am is near Ibillin and provides room and board facilities as well as the House of Hope, an international Christian peace center focusing on Arab/Jewish relationships.

More information about Christian towns can be found at:

http://travelpalestine.ps 
http:/visitpalestine.ps

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