The town of Bir Zeit lies some 10 km north of Ramallah. It gained its name from the university of the same name. Birzeit University was established as a school in 1924 by Nabiha Nasir, an educational visionary who started the school when such establishments were almost non-existent in the area. The school later developed into a community college until it finally became a full-fledged university in 1976. The campus was scattered in several buildings all over the town until the university moved to its sprawling new campus in the 1980s, located two kilometres south of Bir Zeit. In addition to its regular programmes of study, the university has a study programme for international students that includes classes in Arabic language and courses in Palestinian history, politics and society.
The town of Bir Zeit is also home to one of Palestine’s major pharmaceutical companies.
The history of the town of Bir Zeit dates back to the Byzantine period. Remains of that period can still be seen east of the town, near the new municipality building. Crusader remains can be seen at Al-Khirbeh, southwest of the town. Just north of Bir Zeit is the historical village of Attara, where the house of the Maqam Sheikh Al-Katrawani and its beautiful public park are located. The Maqam was built on the foundations of an earlier Byzantine church and is one of the most interesting sanctuaries in the country.
With its idyllic and pastoral setting the town and its surroundings make for pleasant strolls to enjoy the Palestinian spring.