This wonderfully charming and fertile village is not only one of the most beautiful places in the West Bank, it is also one of the most spirited. In 2012, Battir won a ruling to not have the Israelis’ separation wall erected, as it would have run through ancient stone terraces and cut villagers completely off from their land, as well as the only school. The courageous village is now on the UNESCO world heritage list due to its terrace farming and irrigation channels, as it continues to fight the occupation peacefully though its cultural and natural heritage.

Set in a verdant valley 6km west of Bethlehem, Battir is home to a Roman spring and bath, an ecomuseum and some wonderful hiking trails, not forgetting a charming Old Town, known as the Seven Widows Quarter. The railway connecting Jerusalem to the coast can be seen dissecting the valley and it is through this railway that Battir used to supply Jerusalem’s market with mountains of grapes, olives, figs, apples and peaches. Hence why Battir became known as the ‘Basket of Vegetables’ in Jerusalem. It is located in a geographically crucial valley, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which leads out to the Mediterranean sea. Nowadays, the entrance lined with luscious palm trees is the perfect sign of what Battir is all about; a scenic yet feisty village, determined to hold on to the rich heritage it has been blessed with. This village is not to be missed from any trip to the Bethlehem area.

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What To Do

There is an abundance of things to do in Battir, once you eventually stop staring in awe at the beautifully green and luscious valley. The best time to visit is in the spring when the village is at its greenest, but it is a wonderful place to come all year round.

The Roman spring and bath is usually surrounded by children playing on a hot summer’s day, but it is also a crucially important source of fresh water for the people of the village. From here an irrigation channel can be followed down stone steps to the ancient Roman pool, which was once used to water the valley’s crops.

The ecomuseum is the central point for tourism in the town, although if you are expecting a run-of-the-mill exhibition, think again. The motto is ‘our museum is under the sky, not a roof’. This means the museum is actually a dynamic project aimed at preserving, interpreting and managing the local community and heritage. They can organise tours of the agricultural terraces, special lunches and give out any advice to visitors, while the Dar Abu Hassan guest house is located next-door.

The Old Town (Seven Widows Quarter) gained its name from the seven widows that lived there simultaneously and is an intriguing area to explore, thanks to its beautiful and simple architecture. Elsewhere in Battir, there are the ruins of the Canaanite Tower – called Al-Khirbeh – which dates back to the Iron Age and has been inhabited by several cultures including Romans and Jews.

There are also two shrines to visit. The first, Maqam Abu Yazeid Al Bastami, is located underneath the citadel with a small building constructed above it for Abu Yazeid’s wife. The second, Maqam Al Sheik Khattab, is a shrine built for one of the first settlers of the village.

Finally, there are several well-marked tourist walking trails for the cooler days, starting from Battir. These, and everything else, can be explained by the helpful staff at the Ecomuseum, who will also provide maps.

Where To Eat

There are small shops and cafes in Battir, but head to Bethlehem, Beit Sahour or Jerusalem for a great range of dining options.

Where To Stay

The Dar Abu Hassan guest house was renovated to help the village’s tourism trade. Free wifi is available and local produce is included in the breakfast. Contact – [email protected] or call +972 2 2763509 for more information.

Otherwise, there is a range of hotels in Bethlehem, as well as Beit Sahour and slightly further afield in Jerusalem.