Nablus is located between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, both of whose heights are about 900 m. Its population is about 153,000 (source).
Nablus has been famous for its olive products since the Middle Ages, they exported olive oil or olive soap to Syria or Egypt.
Nablus is still the agricultural and industrial center of the northern West Bank. The city, both old and new is always crowded with people.
Choose Nablus olive soap for your souvenir.
Nablus is also famous for knafeh, a Palestinian pastry. Don’t miss to try a piece of freshly-baked knafeh at a local cake shop!
History of Nablus
20th century BC
Nablus was mentioned in the Bible as a city of Shechem.
Shechem was a commercial center of grapes or olives.
2nd century BC
After several battles, Shechem was destroyed in the period of John Hyrcanus.
A new city named as Flavia Neapolis was built near Shechem by the Roman emperor Vespasian.
‘Neapolis’ means ‘new city’ in Greek, which later became the origin of the name of ‘Nablus’.
Nablus developed as a Roman city, with a new Colosseum, a theater, a racetrack and paving roads which still remain in its old city or environs.
Once Constantine the Great declared religious tolerance for Christianity, the conflict between the Christians and the Samaritans got deeper. The Samaritans then got persecuted and excluded.
Palestine was conquered by the Muslims.
Neapolis was then rapidly Islamized and Arabized. The churches were changed into mosques. During this period, the city started to be called ‘Nablus’, with Arabic pronunciation.
Nablus was developed like the Umayyad capital Damascus, called ‘Little Damascus‘.
Palestine was conquered by the Crusades. Christian and Samaritan communities were accepted again.
Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, retook Palestine, Islamic system was redeveloped.
13th century to 18th century
Getting caught with a big earthquake and the attacks by the Mongol Empire or the invasion by the Bedouin, Palestine came under the control of The Mamluk Sultanate, then The Ottoman Empire.
During these periods, the production of olive oil soap or the pastries (such as knafeh) were developed in Nablus.
Because its olive oil soap was a favorite of England Queen, Nablus became well known throughout the Arab world and Europe, also as a commercial center.
the second half of the 19th century
The nationalism got growing in Nablus as well as other Ottoman cities.
The Ottoman Empire fell at the World War I. Palestine came under the control of the UK.
Nablus became the center of the independent Arab state movement, through the rise in the momentum toward Zionism.
After the World War II, Jordan reigned over West Bank cities.
After the Six-Day War, West Bank came under the occupation of Israel.
During under Israeli occupation, the mayor of Nablus got seriously injured in a car bombing by Israeli militants.
As a result of the Oslo Accords, Nablus was designated as Area A, which allow Palestinian Authority its administrative power and police power.
However, there still remain settlements around the city, the economic activity has been limited.