8 interesting places to visit in Ramla
As part of my quest for blogger world domination (as if), I was excited to be invited, to take part in a blogger tour at… Ramla (Ramle).
Ramla? You may ask.
Yes, I’ve been interested in going to this ancient historical city which is located only 25 minutes’ drive from Tel Aviv, for forever. Mainly due to its architectural gems, that capture the imagination.
But also because of the opportunity to satisfy my slightly juvenile urge to row a boat at the Arches Pool; one of the sets of a famous movie scene from an iconic Israeli youth adventure film called “Hasamba and the Deserted Youths”.
Ramla, as it turns out is extremely underrated city.
It offers a variety of attractions and is a multi-religion and multicultural destination with a lot to learn from. Last year it even won the President’s award for Israeli Hope in cross-cultural education cooperation.
If you speak Spanish, you might be happy to know that the second most widely spoken language in Ramla is – Spanish! When you stroll through the market you will notice some stall owners haggling in Spanish. This is due to great amount of South American immigrants to the city in recent years.
Fun fact: Ramla’s name is derived from the Arabic word for sand, because it was built on sand dunes
It was established in 716 AD, by the Mamluks Arabs
The major sites to see are mostly within walking distance from each other.
Here are 8 places worth visiting in Ramla:
The Arches Pool
You can rent boats and row through it while marveling at the beautifully built arches and pillars. No wonder filmmakers were attracted to this place. It certainly has the vibe and is worth seeing.
The Square White Tower
The Square White Tower offers the opportunity for those who are fit enough to (carefully) walk up its’ one hundred and some stairs and get a view of the entire vicinity.
The tower is part of a Mosque that was built during the 12th century AD of which little remains. The British were so impressed with the tower, that they chose it to adorn money notes during Mandate.
The Franciscan Nakdimon Church and Clock Tower
The Franciscan Monastery was named after Joseph and Nicodemus who took Jesus’ body off from the Cross. They originated from Ramah City, that Christians mistakenly identified as Ramle.
It is said that during 1799 Napoleon stayed in one of the monastery rooms and was unable to sleep due to the muezzin from the mosque nearby. So he shot the muezzin and killed him. Lesson to be learned from story – do not irritate emperors trying to fall asleep.
I loved the church which had an air of mystery to it. There is a Titian painting hanging, symbol of the third eye in the top stained glass window and a plaque with numbers in an order to be deciphered. If you find out what they stand for, please do let me know.
The Ramla Museum and Gold Coin Treasure
Ramle Museum holds many interesting artifacts from the city’s rich history. But certainly the most prominent one is the collection of 367 rare gold coins from some 1,200 years ago. Some are the only of their type in the world! From Algeria to Samarkand, these demonstrate the commercial importance the city had during the Muslim Empire days. The treasure was discovered by construction workers and even survived a museum robbery attempt.
Karaite Jewish World Center
Ramla houses the Karaite World Center.
Unlike mainstream Jews, Karaites follow only the teachings of the written Old Testament, without Oral Law interpretation. They do not for example separate meat and dairy, and are pro women equality. It was eye opening for me to learn of the community that thinks differently to the status quo leaving responsibility of interpretation up to the individual.
The Great Mosque
The Great Mosque is actually the largest Crusader Cathedral building that stands intact in Israel. It was converted in 12th century AD by the Mamlukites, who conquered the land. It is an impressive active mosque that interestingly combines Christian architecture with Islamic elements.
The Ramla Market (Shuk)
Ramla’s vibrant Middle Eastern market (Shuk or Bazaar as some would call it) was one of my personal favorites. It has been running since the Ottoman period and has an amazing variety of everything you can think of. From rare spices to made in china shirts. If you are looking for affordable varied items, Ramle’s Market is the place for you.
I would also definitely recommend taking a culinary tour if you get the chance.
At the time of writing this article, the most popular persona at the Ramla market is without a doubt the Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu. Prominent banners declaring the market’s support of him could not be missed.
Harry Potter’s Grave
Harry Potter’s grave who was sadly only 19 years old at his death. Photo: the official Ramle Tourism Website
Harry Potter is buried in Ramla – but no need to inform J.K. Rowling yet. A real-life British soldier by the name of Harry Potter was killed in action during the Arab uprising in 1939 and is buried in the British Military Cemetery in Ramla.
For more information about Ramla and the attractions it offers hit their website goramla.
There is even a free guided tour Ramla app to make your life easier once there.
I would like to thank Galit Keidar for initiating organizing the tour, as well as the people of go.ramla including Ron Peled, Orna Shomron and Roni Barzilay for a gracious hospitality to their beloved city.
What do you think about the city? Let me know below:
a. Sounds so underrated
b. Cool history and diversity
c. Not sure I’ll go
Read about more destinations to see in Israel here.