Ramla is a city in central Israel, about 14 miles east of Tel Aviv. It has a fascinating mixed population of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, unique historical landmarks, and a colorful local market.

History of Ramla

Chaliph Suleiman Abd el-Malek established Ramla in 716 CE, and titled it “Ramla,” a derivative of “Ramal” (sand, in Arabic). The city is on the vital road system from Jaffa to Jerusalem and the main coastal highway connecting Cairo and Damascus. Ramla flourished in the following centuries, forming an urban center with its neighboring city, Lod. To this day, Ramla is a regional center and a tourist attraction, especially among the Israelis.

Touring Ramla

Today, Ramla is home to about 100,000 residents, most of whom are Jews. Its main attractions are:

ramla mosqueThe Grand Mosque –Bearing a clear Romanesque style, the Crusaders originally built the city’s main mosque. Expelling the Crusaders, the Muslims converted the structure into a mosque, which is today’s function.

Ramla’s Market – Adjacent to Ramla’s main mosque is the city’s colorful fruits and vegetables market. Stretching over 500 meters, the market offers cheap clothing imports and exciting local street food.

Ramla’s Central Catholic Church – Ramla’s main Catholic church is the Franciscan monastery. It is 500 meters north of the Grand Mosque and along the medieval road from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The church was built in the 15th century and named after Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Its interior bears a Renaissance painting of the Deposition of Christ by Joseph and Nicodemus. The Monastery’s is also known for its guest house. Mark Twain and Napoleon Bonaparte are some figures who stayed in it.

ramla pool of archesThe “White Tower” – Standing high above the city center, the Mamluks erected the. It was both a watch tower and a Minaret, a place for calls to Muslim prayers. One hundred eleven steps lead to its top, which offers a grand view of the city and much of the coastal plain. Around it, the remains of the early Muslim Mosque and well-preserved remains of water reservoirs can still be seen.

“Pool of Arches” – At the city’s northern end lies another set of underground water reservoirs. These reservoirs are still water-filled and spacious enough to sail in a small gondola.

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