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The city of Nablus is situated 63 km north of Jerusalem, between the historic mountains of Gerizim to the south and Ebal to the north. It enjoys a strategic position at the junction between two ancient commercial roads: one linking the coast to the Jordan valley, the other one linking the north to the south of Palestine through the mountains.
Historians call Nablus the “the uncrowned queen of Palestine”. With a total population of over 100,000 inhabitants, it is now one of the largest towns in the West Bank, and one of its main industrial and commercial centers.
The Roman emperor Titus founded the city as Flavia Neapolis (New City) in AD 72 in honor of his father Vespasian. It was the scene of constant strife between the local Samaritan and Christian populations, but in the wake of the Samaritan revolt against Rome in 529 AD, which was put down with severity by Justinian, most of the Samaritans were expelled.
Nablus is a typical Arab town with its houses built down the mountains’ sides.
The town was conquered by the Moslem Arabs in 636 who corrupted its name to Nablus. The Crusader’s army, leaded by Tancred conquered the town in 1099 AD and the Crusaders built a number of churches during their rule. Many of theses churches were erected for Queen Melisande, the widow of the Crusader King Fulk of Anjou, who made it her base after her exclusion from Jerusalem by their son Baldwin III in 1152. With their keen eye for strategic positions, the Crusaders also built a fortress on the top of Mount Gerizim. They could hold the city until the arrival of Salah al-Din in 1187.
During the eighteenth century, the inhabitants of Nablus were among the most prosperous in the country, depending for their wealth on wheat and olives. The city is also known for its history of militancy. Under the British Mandate, it was a centre of Palestinian resistance to Zionist immigration and it was here in 1936 that a National Committee was first set up. Except for the brief period during the Crusades, Nablus has remained predominantly Moslem until the present day.