Tell Balata Archaelogical Park

West Bank

Tell Balata is the remains of what is believed to be the first settlement in Nablus, the Canaanite town of Shechem, dating from the first and second centuries BCE. Shechem was orientated around a spring in the valley between two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal. Close to Jacob's Well, Tell Balata boasts some interesting ruins and an excellent – albeit tiny – museum.

The archaeological park is relatively new, having been developed with support from Unesco. As a result, ruins are still being discovered. By far the most impressive is the remains of a fortress temple that archaeologists believe was used as a public place of worship. A path around the edge of the site also allows visitors to trace the old city walls.

Tell Balata is well signposted from the road from Ramallah and, more often than not, deserted. On the upside, this means you often have it to yourself; on the downside it means you may only be able to get into the museum (well worth a visit) by hammering on the door to rouse the sleeping porter.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby West Bank attractions

1. Jacob’s Well

0.03 MILES

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…

2. Samaritan Museum

0.83 MILES

Members of an ancient religion closely related to Judaism, the Samaritans believe that Mt Gerizim was not only the first piece of land ever created but…

3. Al Kebir Mosque


Al Kebir Mosque (Great Mosque) is built on the site of an earlier Crusader church and Byzantine and Roman basilicas. Bits and pieces of its earlier…

4. Touqan Soap Factory

0.98 MILES

One of a number of soap factories open to visitors in Nablus, Touqan opened in 1872, and the techniques of soap making here have not changed much since…

5. Samaritan Ruins


The ancient site of the Samaritan Temple is a 10-minute walk uphill from the village, via a locked gate: ring the intercom and a guard will let you…

6. Sebastia

6.28 MILES

Sebastia is a collection of ruins above a village of the same name that is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the West Bank.

7. Greek Orthodox Church of St George

16.48 MILES

On the periphery of Burqi’in, the Greek Orthodox Church of St George is built on the site where Jesus is said to have healed 10 lepers. Believed to be one…

8. Canaan Fair Trade

16.87 MILES

Located 2km beyond Buqi’in, this olive-oil factory practises fair-trade policy with its farmers. A tour of the factory includes a tasting, and if you want…