Ramallah is the capital of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank, the oft-disputed strip of land under joint Israeli-Palestininan control. It is about 10 kilometres north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh, a trade and transport hub in the West Bank. It is a thriving economic and cultural city. The easiest way to get here is by bus from either Jerusalem or Bethlehem. You will have to go through a checkpoint so make sure you have your visa and passport with you. It is illegal for Israelis to enter Ramallah.
Ramallah was first founded in the Middle Ages by Haddadins, Jordanian blacksmith brothers and their families. They were also, notably, Christians. The town peaked as an agricultural village in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, more churches and communities were built, including a Quaker church, which today runs a women’s high school. Post-World War One, the British controlled the region until the Jordanians captured the West Bank in the late 1940s. Many Ramallah residents fled to the US during this period. In the 1960s, Israel took back over and as a result, the West Bank residents conducted an uprising known as the Intifada. Yassar Arafat had his primary residence there until his death in 2004; the region remains under strife, albeit peaceful. Israelis and Palestinians live side by side and there are plenty of diplomatic missions in Ramallah. Religious-wise, today the town is predominantly Muslim but retains its Christianity. Unlike a traditional Muslim town, merchants in Ramallah sell alcohol and Western movies, books, and more. You will also encounter a number of female merchants and highly educated women.
Backpackers seeking accommodation in Ramallah are advised to look in the city centre, near Arafat Square. Here, you’ll find several new hostels with friendly and knowledgeable staff, plenty of space, and tour offerings. Since Ramallah is still growing, both in architectural and economic terms, it’s very likely that there will be a lot more hostels cropping up as more and more travellers add it to their list! Expect hostels here to be clean and spacious. Most hostels in Ramallah will be able to give you great ideas regarding the nightlife and any tours of the city. The city is a great place to visit if you’re interested in the early Christian and Orthodox religions as there are several interesting churches to visit. It is also the most affluent Palestinian city and has a vibrant nightlife and cultural centre. You may see locals wearing traditional Palestinian dress, although they are likely attending a wedding! Don’t miss the local Turkish baths in the neighbouring El-Bireh.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Ramallah hostels. Welcome.