Bani Naim - palestine

Bani Na’im

Surrounded by soaring mountains and often overgrown with olive trees, Bani Na’im is an attractive and emotive town. With more than 20,000 residents, it is big enough to boast most of the necessary facilities, including a hospital and a busy high street. The Old Town is one of the best preserved in the Hebron governorate, and some of the historic stone buildings are actually still lived in. It is in the Old Town where Bani Na’im’s oldest mosque can be found.

The town is best known as the burial place of the prophet Lot, who was sent on an unsuccessful mission by God to persuade the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to stop their lustful, violent way of life. His tomb was later turned into a Mosque which is now located in the centre of Bani Na’im, while his daughters are allegedly buried in a tomb on the hill directly opposite. There is a shrine dedicated to Lot to the southeast of the town, called Maqam an-Nabi Yatin (Shrine of the Truthful Prophet). Legend has it that Lot prayed at this exact site, leaving visible imprints of his in a rock.

Both Muslim and Christian tradition heralds Bani Na’im as the place where Abraham saw the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah ‘rising as the smoke of a furnace’. Today, Bani Na’im – just 8km east of Hebron – is a key commercial centre for many villages.

Omar Manasreh fled the town as a refugee and returned 44 years later in 2014. Bani Na’im ‘gave him back his soul’, read about it here.

Population: 20,084 (2007)

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What To Do

Everything from clothes to spices and pottery can be purchased on the eclectic high street which forms the heart of Bani Na’im. While the mosque of Prophet Lot’s tomb is without doubt the building with the most cultural significance, as he is an important figure in both Islam and Christian tradition.

The spectacular Old Town is home to houses which are more than a 1,000 years old, built in the typical two-room style and with elegant domed roofs. On a clear day you can even see the Dead Sea from the highest points in the Old Town.

While the nearby city of Hebron is a remarkable place. This historic city is still smarting from decades of conflict and political tension but well worth a visit.

Where To Eat

There are various restaurants in Bani Na’im serving up delicious Palestinian food such as shawerma, falafel and the best hummus you’ll ever taste. But the Hebron neighbourhood of Ras al-Jora – 11km away – is the place to find a multitude of restaurants.

Where To Stay

Bani Na’im is just 8km east of Hebron, where there are four proper hotels. Alternatively, there is a great range of accommodation in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Ramallah.