The Old City of Beit Jala

The Old City of Beit Jala

The city of Beit Jala, which translates from Aramaic as “home of the grass carpet,” is just two kilometers northwest of Bethlehem. In the early 19th century, the town witnessed a state of unrest due to the absence of law and security during the Ottoman rule.

This situation forced its inhabitants to build their homes close together around the monasteries and churches. Beit Jala’s historic core, just like all the cores around Palestine, is splendid and consists of five old quarters, known in Arabic as “harat”: Haret Al Kanees; Haret Al Samaaneh; Haret Al Iraq; Haret Al Deir; and Haret Al Sarrar. Until the early 20th century, Beit Jala was surrounded with olive groves, and the livelihoods of most people depended on the olive harvest. During the Ottoman period, the Old Core included three olive presses, of which two were located in Al Kanees Quarter. Most structures in the Old Core are influenced by the Ottoman style of architecture, while some include archaeological ruins that date back to the Byzantine period. The town also features several public squares, including Al Manshiye, Al Souq and Al Saray

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