Nablus, an Arabic Canaanite city, is one of the oldest cities in the world, possibly first established 9000 years ago. It was first named "shechem" meaning shoulder or high land, then "moborta" from of the Aramaic name "Mabarakhtha" or the blessed one, on the side of Maborta. Titus, built the new town - Flavia Neapolis, in 70 A. D., in honor of Flavius Vespasian the Roman emperor at that time.
During the Ottoman rule, Nablus suffered, like other cities of the Middle East, from the retarded state of education. Schools were first established in the middle of the 19th century during the short reign of Abraham Pascha, 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 increased emigration to the slopes of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal where new roads allow vehicles the easy access otherwise denied to them.
How was Nablus During the British Mandate?
During the British Mandate (1918 - 1948), Nablus was at the forefront of Palestinian Nationalism, and it was the center of resistance against the British. The 1948 Arab- Israeli war saw the city fall under Jordanian authority, and two camps were built near the city to accommodate the refugees. In 1967, Nablus was occupied by the Israeli army. The resulting occupation damaged the infrastructure of the city. Three refugee camps were added to accommodate the people who fled to the city during the conflict.
The City of Nablus
Nablus city is the largest city in West Bank after Jerusalem. It is situated between and on the slopes of two mountains: Ibal (940 m.) above sea level, and Jerzim (881 m.). It is located (69) km. north of Jerusalem and (42) km. east of the Mediterranean Sea. It is rich in archaeological and historical sites: Tell Balata, Jacob's well, a Roman theater, and the Jewish Samaritan Community. Jacob's well is marked by a church built over the site in the fifth century and maintained ever since. Additional buildings were added during the sixth and twelfth centuries and finally in 1908.
Roman ruins have been found under the present city. Recently, the remains of a horse track were discovered in the center of the city, as well as a Roman cemetery at the Sillawi station and a soldier's cemetery. Both cemeteries include stone-engraved coffins with architectural designs. The Roman theater found in Nablus is the largest found anywhere in Palestine. Parts of a Roman road were found beneath the Thafer Al-Masri School. This road, in addition to the remains of a stair way, connects Nablus city with the Roman Temple on top of Jerzim mountain.
The Old City of Nablus
The Old City of Nablus dates back to the Othman Mamluk period. Many of the quarters still carry the characteristics of old Islamic cities and are named after the goods or skills that were traditionally traded in the souqs. The Old City is particularly amazing. It is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. Its buildings belong to different historical periods from Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Islamic and Ottoman time. Nablus Municipality, since 1994, set up a vast project of renovation and rehabilitation of the streets, houses, water sources, mosques and churches in cooperation with specialized International organizations, mainly UNESCO, in order to preserve the Old City as an important historical monument. Much of the work has been retarded or sent into reverse by the violence of the current Intifada.
Before the current Intifada Nablus was the major commercial, industrial and agricultural centre in the northern West Bank. This commercial and industrial wealth has been shattered by invasions -- roadblocks, curfews, severe damage to the city's basic infrastructure and the demolition of multiple factories. Nonetheless, the community clings to life and you can still find a market (souq) at the heart of the Old City of Nablus.
Nablus links: http://www.nablus.org
Balata Refugee Camp
Askar Refugee Camp