During my recent visit to Israel I got to spend a day with each of my six siblings. My sister Sapir shared with me her favorite neighborhood in Jerusalem – Ein Karem. With my sister Liora I went to visit old Jaffa. My brother Eliya took me to visit the lovely parents of his girlfriend Ravit. With my sister Zofit I visited two of our aunts and in between we enjoyed brunch and shopped for books. I spent a day with my brother Nathaniel editing his thesis in economics; we took a break from work to go out for a long walk in our hometown of Rosh HaAyin (also the hometown of Wonder Woman Gal Gadot) and to have lunch downtown. When my brother Yair and his wife Talya came to pick me up in the morning for our day together, I had no clue where we were going to go. When I got into their car Talya asked me to choose a letter between “J” and “R”. I had a sense that “J” stood for Jerusalem, which I love, but I was curious to find out what the “R” stood for. It turned out that we were heading to Ramla.
The city of Ramla is located 22km/12mi southeast of Tel Aviv. It is an ancient city in Israel; it was established in the 8th century by the Muslims, and over the years changed hands by many conquerors such as Napoleon, the Ottomans, and the British. The name Ramla stems from the Arabic word for sand – Ramal, which was what the area was before it was built up. What I loved the most about this city, aside from the old stone buildings, was the very colorful and diverse population. If you want to see a beautiful example of daily co-existence of religions in the Middle East, go to Ramla and see how Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together peacefully. When we walked around we saw schoolboys wearing blue T-shirts and golden cross pendants talking to a group of girls with Hijabs and a nun smiles at a Jewish orthodox mother and her baby as if they were already familiar with each other. We heard Hebrew and Arabic spoken regularly in the streets, and all locals seemed to gather by the falafel stand on the street corner across from the market.
|A list of twin cities of Ramla in front of the town hall|
|The minaret of the Great Mosque|
|An Arab girl in traditional dress|
|a nun in Ramla|
|The Franciscan Church|
|An old stone building in Rmala|
There is a lot to see in Ramla. We only had time to explore three sites in the city, which I’m going to share here with you. At the end of this post you will find a list of other sites in Ramla and links to their pages on the city website:
This underground water reservoir is 1,200 years old and has survived several earthquakes. Visitors can tour the place in a boat.
|A look at the arches from the outside|
Located in the center of ancient Ramla, this tower was completed in 1318 to serve as a watchtower. It’s 30 meter (98 ft.) high and has 111 stairs from the bottom to the top. The tower offers visitors a panoramic view of the entire area – from the Mediterranean coast in the west to the Judean Mountains and Samaria in the east.
On the western side of the tower there is an old Muslim cemetery. It is believed that Nebi Salah, a prophet mentioned in the Koran seven times, is buried there.
|The White Tower|
|A look at the Muslim cemetery from the top of the White Tower|
|Panoramic view from the top of the White Tower|
|Nebi Salah's grave|
The Ramla Market is one of the famous markets in Israel. Established by the end of the Ottoman era, it is more than 100 years old. It’s a very colorful market, where visitors can experience local foods, such as pastries, cheeses, and olives. Every week on Wednesday the market expands to accommodate merchants from all around the country.
Other sites to visit in Ramla: