Jacob’s Well

West Bank

Near the entrance to Balata, the largest refugee camp in the West Bank, is the spot where Christians believe a Samaritan woman offered Jesus a drink of water, before he revealed to her that he was the Messiah (John 4:13–14). A Byzantine church destroyed in the Samaritan revolt of 529 CE was replaced by a Crusader church, which itself fell into ruins in the Middle Ages. The current church, St Photina the Samaritan, was built in the 1860s by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

The church grounds are a stunningly beautiful spot, the immaculate chapel set in lush, quiet gardens filled with neighbourhood cats. Go down the steps close to the altar to see the well itself.

About 300m southeast, a compound known as Joseph’s Tomb has in recent years been a source of considerable friction between Jews, who come here to pray under IDF escort (in coordination with the Palestinian Authority), and local Arabs.

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