Ramallah is the capital city of Palestine (West Bank) located in Area A. Ramallah offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Tomb of Yasser Arafat
- Al-Manara Square (Times square of Ramallah)
- Various bars and restaurants including Star and Bucks
Ramallah has a few budget places to stay but it’s recommended you check the current safety situation before visiting.
Yasser Arafat is an important figure in recent Palestine history who died in 2004 aged 75 in questionable circumstances. When he was alive his office was located at Mukataa. Mukataa now has a mausoleum in his honor which is 11 meters high by 11 meters wide to signify he died in November, the 11th month of the year. The mausoleum is the building I’m stood in (above). The Mukataa today as well as being a mausoleum to Arafat is still the headquarters of the Palestinian authority.
Al-Manara Square is the center of the city of Ramallah, often referred to as Time Square. Whilst walking around Ramallah the locals will often shout ‘welcome’ or ‘welcome to the occupied territories’ they are very friendly. You’ll find lot’s of traditional restaurants in the center, foodies will love the Palestinian food.
For a great view of the city of Ramallah and even Jerusalem, you can visit the top floor of Hostel D. This is also a recommended budget accommodation in Ramallah.
If you are a Starbucks fan then you must try the Palestinian version, Star and Bucks. You’ll find a few of these coffee shops throughout Ramallah and they have done their best to be as good as the original Starbucks. They sell their merchandise and their logo is very similar to the Starbucks logo, the Arabic coffee they serve here is very good too. One large difference with Star and Bucks is that most of the clientele are smoking shisha pipes, the coffee shop does not have the coffee aroma!
You’ll see Palestinian soldiers and they are very friendly towards foreigners, don’t be afraid to ask them for a photo. I did ask if I could have a picture holding his gun but he declined and laughed about it. This soldier (above) was guarding the Mukataa, the headquarters of the Palestinian authority.
The journey from Ramallah takes about 2 hours because you cannot drive directly, you have to drive around the separation wall between Israel and Palestine. It is an interesting journey with the separation wall visible most of the way to Bethlehem.