Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs

West Bank

The focal point of Hebron for most visitors is the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah), known to Muslims as Ibrahimi Mosque (Ibrahim is the Muslim name for Abraham). The site is sacred to both Muslims and Jews – be aware of the strict security and separate prayer spaces for each. When coming from the Old City, you will need to pass through an Israeli checkpoint and show your passport.

Looking rather like decorated tents, the mostly Mamluk-era cenotaphs commemorate the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, but it’s the cave below that both Jews and Muslims believe was chosen by Abraham as the actual final resting place of his family.

You can peer into the cave through a metal grate in the corner of the mosque. As you walk into the room that allows viewing of the cenotaph of Abraham, note the small niche near the door where you can see a footprint. The Muslims believe this to be Muhammad's footprint, while Jews believe it was created by Adam.

Built by Herod (notice the Herodian stones at the base of the walls), the complex was altered by the Byzantines in the 6th century – they added a church, beside which a synagogue was built. When the Arabs conquered the area in the following century, the church was converted to a mosque, but the synagogue remained intact. After the Crusaders left the scene, the Mamluks built another mosque.

When entering the mosque, you will be asked to remove your shoes, and women will be handed a head covering. When entering the synagogue, men will be offered kippas and women a scarf to cover their shoulders.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby West Bank attractions

1. Hebron Glass and Ceramics Factory

2.56 MILES

This factory on the outskirts of Hebron, on the main road into the city from the north, has been in the Natsheh family for 350 years. Visitors can observe…

2. Solomon’s Pools

11.82 MILES

During Roman times, a series of natural springs filled three mammoth rectangular reservoirs supplying water via aqueducts to Jerusalem and Herodium. King…

3. Museum of Palestinian Heritage

11.86 MILES

This impressive museum in the new complex of buildings opposite Soloman's Pools is the personal collection of one man, Ishaq al Hroub, who gathered this…

4. Herodium

12.4 MILES

King Herod’s spectacular fortress-palace, Herodium, built between 23 and 15 BCE, was known through the centuries to Arab inhabitants as the Mountain of…

5. Souq

13.55 MILES

Has a range of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, junk, shoes and some mighty tasty snacks. Known to locals as the Green Market, the souq was…

6. Mosque of Omar

13.58 MILES

Opposite the Church of the Nativity and named after the second Muslim caliph, Omar Ibn Al Khattab, this is the only mosque in Bethlehem’s Old City. It was…

7. International Center of Bethlehem

13.59 MILES

This Lutheran-run centre puts on concerts, plays, films, English-language documentaries, workshops and lectures. There’s also a coffee shop, guesthouse,…

8. Lutheran Christmas Church

13.6 MILES

Built in the 19th-century church, the Lutheran Christmas Church is linked to the International Center of Bethlehem and was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm…