Silwad, Palestine


On first appearances, Silwad appears to be a normal West Bank town, distinguished only by its lofty perch, 860 metres above sea level. But within the mazy old town streets and beyond, there are many secrets to be discovered.

Silwad is also the home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, and a cemetery devoted to those who lost their life to Israeli troops shows how much this town cares about its citizens, a sentiment shared across many West Bank destinations.

On the surrounding hillsides new buildings are springing up, while a brand new hospital has just been constructed, evidence that Silwad is expanding in the face of adversity.

Population: 6,123 (2007)

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What To Do

The best place to start is with a visit to the council offices, next door to the Silwad post office on the main road through the town. Here a local expert will join you on a trip around town (if you ask nicely).

The Al Kharouf rock (lamb rock) is one of the first sights, an ancient crag jutting out at the side of town, decorated intriguingly with hand-carved statues. Rising up dramatically behind it is the second highest mountain in the West Bank, Jebel al Asur, at 1016 metres.

The rustic old town is a fascinating place to wander, its main feature being the old mosque which has been expanded in recent years, as can clearly be seen in the stone work. Adjacent to the mosque, renovation work is underway on a small artisan and handicrafts shop.

From a viewpoint at the edge of the town, the road to Nablus can be seen dissecting the valley while the town of Atara stands atop a mountain. If the sky is clear you can even see the Mediterranean sea. While hidden right in the heart of the old town is a promising community centre, which has been renovated thanks to grants and turned into a museum.

The martyr cemetery has a prominent position with panoramic views, befitting the citizens who have been killed by Israeli forces.

Another mosque worth visiting is the Southern Mosque, built 80 years ago, before Israeli occupation.

Away from the old town, Silwad has yet more to offer in the shape of an unexpected fair ground. Silwad Fun Land opened two years ago with a ferris wheel, dodgems and various other attractions. It is now open most evenings and holidays.

There is also a municipal swimming pool, perfect for cooling off after a long day in the sun or at the fairground.

There are various small shops dotted on and around the main road running through the town.

Not far from town are the archaeological sites of Khirbet Kafr ‘Atah and Khirbet az Zeit, where an olive oil press can be found.

Where To Eat

The town is famous for its fig trees, which are as abundant as the excitable children running around the old town streets. There are a few spots along the main road to pick up snacks.

Where To Stay

While apartments can be rented in Silwad, the easiest option is to stay in one of the nearby cities such as Nablus or Ramallah and visit for the day.