Notes on the Geography of The West Bank: Nablus
Although Ramalla is the capital of the West Bank, it's a new city--a product of the 20th century. The only old Palestinian city north of Jerusalem is Nablus, built in the trough between two mountainous hills. It's not a great location, and floods have sometimes swept through, most recently in the 1930s. Like San Francisco and its earthquakes, this hazard hasn't had much impact on the determination of Nabulsis to rebuild.
Nablus has a theater, as you'd expect of a self-respecting second-century Roman colony--full name, Flavia Neapolis. It's in poor shape, a sorry contrast to the carefully restored theater at Beit She'an, hardly 25 miles away but in Israel.
Unlike Bethlehem and Hebron, the streets of Nablus still bear some resemblance to the grid laid down by the Romans. Upon it, the masons have gone to work with their arches and domes.
Hebron and Bethlehem don't have such tunneled streets, let alone grids.
Some of the passageways are phenomenally narrow.
An anarchist triumph: a newer building moves into the tunnel and leaves barely enough space for a car to squeeze through.
Basic services are often poor.
Nablus doesn't have any supermarkets with carts to steal, so this one must have come from Israel.
Throughout the West Bank, playgrounds are non-existent: streets serve.
There's been some superficial heritage restoration, for example replacing asphalt with stone.
Rehabilitation is less spectacular than in Hebron or Bethlehem, but efforts are being made.
The new market in the old city.
A new roof: such a structure was contemplated for Hebron but raised such a storm of protest from heritage-faithful architects that the idea was shelved.
A relic bit of Roman paving.
A patient tin-smith.
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