The Sultan's Pool (Birket Al-Sultan) is a large reservoir,which is part of waqf of the Ibrahimi Mosque.It was built by Mamluk sultan Qalawun during major water engineering works that also included sabils (drinking fountains).
Glass-blowing (the glass factoroies) is said to have been brought to Hebron by the Venetians in the 14th century and a number of producers are still in action,making distinctive cobalt-blue vessels and a range of decorative pieces including the huge bunches of glass grapes .
The actual meaning of 'MACHPELAH" is 'DOUBLE' (from the Hebrew root k-p-l), and is interpreted as referring either to a double cave or to the 'couples' buried in the cave.
The Bible relates that Avraham, wishing to bury Sarah, purchased Machpelah from Efron the Hittite for 400 silver Shekels.
Avraham himself, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah were all later buried there. Jacob specifically commanded his sons not to bury him in Egypt but to lay him to rest with his fathers in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 47:28-31; 49:30).
The site of the cave is today identified with Kharam el-Khalil in modern Hebron. Surrounding the area, to a height of 12 m, is a magificent wall, distinguished by its hewn stones which are up to 7.5 m. in length.
The area inside the compound was originally left roofless. The Byzantineas built a church, later converted to a mosque by the Muslims.
The Abraham Avinu Synagogue (Hebrew: áéú äëðñú òì ùí àáøäí àáéðåý) was built in 1540. The domed structure represented the physical center of the Jewish Quarter of Hebron, and became the spiritual center of the Jewish Community there and a major center for the study of Kabalah. It was restored in 1738 and enlarged in 1864.
Jordan took control of the area in 1948, and after this time a wholesale market, trash dump and public toilet were placed on the site of the Jewish Quarter. A goat and donkey pen was placed on the ruins of the Synagogue.
When Israel won control over the West Bank after the Six Day War in 1967, a gradual return of Jews took place to the Jewish Quarter in Hebron.
In 1976 the Israeli Government ordered evacuation of the animal pen, enabling the remnants of the synagogue to be uncovered, and the Synagogue was rebuilt.
Today, the rebuilt synagogue is used each Friday night by the Jewish residents of Hebron to hold prayer services. The synagogue is also open to visitors each day of the week.
A sign on the Hadassah House commemorating the 1929 massacre of Hebron’s Jews, when 67 Jews were killed.
Although the remainder of the town’s Jews were hidden by sympathetic Arabs, the British evacuated the survivors.
The Jews who settled in Hebron following the 1967 conquest of the West Bank by the Israeli Army see themselves as the avengers of the 67 dead.
The 500-odd Jews of contemporary Hebron live among more than 150,000 Arabs.
The Mosque/synagogue/once-church above the caves of the Patriarchs is the most important historical building in Hebron. The Patriarchs in question are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Since I am in favour of political correctness I shall also include their wives Sara, Rebecca and Leah as "patriarchs". All these biblical figures are revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims and are believed to be interred somewhere under the building of the mosque. Tradition also maintains that Adam and Eve are buried there and goes on to claim that Hebron is the threshold of Eden. The caves themselves are sealed and the building itself is also nearly inaccessible since I had to go through three checkpoints just a few metres apart and wait while my Palestinian friends were thoroughly searched and humiliated.
The land around the Oak of Abraham near Hebron was bought by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws) in 1868. The idea belonged to Antonin Kapustin, and Russians managed to buy the land from the Muslim owner with the help of Jacob Halebi who bought the land in his name.
The building of the church began in 1908, the architect was the Italian J. Bergamasko. The first world war broke up and the church was open in 1925.
St. Trinity is the only Christian church in Hebron.
Hm, the Oak tree is old indeed. But whether it is the oak where Abraham saw God as three men in Genesis 18, I do not know.
'The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby.'
The story is from the Old Testament. In Genesis 17 we read that Abraham became a father at the age of 99 when his wife Sarah was 90 years old. And in Genesis 22 we see that Abraham is ready to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac to please God... And when God see that Abraham is ready to do anything told by Him, he sent to Abraham a ram to be sacrificed instead.
In Genesis 18, the tree men are on their way to Sodom when they stopped at the trees and asked Abraham to feed them. And then Abraham pleased for God's mercy for Sodom if there were 10 righteous people there...
There is a nickname in Bulgarian (and I suppose in other languages) 'Abraham's home' meaning a home full of guests, referring the hospitality of Abraham.
Here at the Tomb of the Patriarchs you will find the traditional burial place of Abraham and Sarah. It is a holy site for both Jews and Muslims. Each group has a sepatare place to pray here.
It seemed to be an oasis of prayer surrounded by turmoil.
Hebron is an ancient city in a part of the world that stretches back for thousands of years. Just northeast of the Tomb of Abraham, and dotted about elsewhere, are remains of the old city, now crumbling but still very attractive. This part is in a high security zone on the route to the Kiryat Arba Israeli settlement. With the situation in the city as it is, some people have moved into these ancient buildings and now live among the ruins.
Hebron is two cities in one - part is run by the Palestinian Authority, part by the Israeli authorities. To walk between them, past the numerous high security checkpoints, is like entering a new world. While the Palestinian half is poor but bustling and full of life, colour and noise, the occupied half is like entering a warzone. Miles of empty streets, an eery silence and army snipers on every rooftop. There's no traffic and very few people; everything is closed and it's like wandering through a ghost town.
See my travelogue for some photos.
This is the Rabbi's Plot of Hebron's ancient Jewish cemetery. Numerous very famous Rabbis are buried here, as are some of the victims of the 1929 riots. The whole cemetery is quite an extensive site and there was nobody about so just let yourself in and have a wander around.
Jesse was the father of King David and this small hilltop tomb is where he was buried. It must be one of the strangest ''tourist attractions'' that I've ever seen.
It's a tiny little cavern with a couple of candles and pictures, right in the middle of an Israeli army camp. According to a very outdated tourist leaflet, "The peak of the hill offers breathtaking views of the old city of Hebron" - which I'm sure it does, but these days the ground immediately above the tomb is a lookout point complete with sandbags, barbed wire and machine guns pointed directly at you. So I gave the view a miss!
Just to get to the tomb requires walking almost through the middle of the army barracks and an extremely heavily fortified narrow pathway. I was sure I must be going the wrong way, but a few increasingly annoyed soldiers kept urging me on.
Unless you're very religious then the tomb isn't really worth seeing, but the whole surroundings and getting to it is quite an unusual experience.
Just inside the Israeli controlled part of the city, this is a former community hospital and synagogue. It now houses a small museum about the history of Hebron's Jewish community, with specific focus on the 1929 riots in the city that left many Jews dead. The building next door commemorates the six Jewish men murdered in 1980 on their way to the synagogue.
The souk dominates the Palestinian part of the city and it's a typical West Bank market: chaotic, crowded, bustling and colourful - with insane traffic jams and endless beeping horns. Some of the buildings in this area are left over from Mamluk and even Crusader periods (as well as somewhat more modern, less attractive concrete blocks) and it's quite an attractive and charming market.
The rickety old wooden stalls sell the usual assortment of fruit and vegetables, clothes and so on, but keep an eye out for camels strung up at the butchers, which is quite a common sight here.