Ramla in Wikipedia
Ramla (Hebrew: רַמְלָה Ramlāh; Arabic: الرملة ar-Ramlah, also
Ramlah, Ramle, Remle and sometimes Rama), is a city in
central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a
significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715
AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after
the Arab conquest of the region. Ramla lays along the route
of the Via Maris, connecting old Cairo (Fustat) with
Damascus, at the intersection of the roads connecting the
port of Jaffa with Jerusalem.
It was conquered many times in the course of its history, by
the Abbasids, the Ikhshidids, the Fatamids, the Seljuqs, the
Crusaders, the Mameluks, the Turks, the British, and the
Israelis. After an outbreak of the Black Death in 1347,
which decimated the population, an order of Franciscan monks
established a presence in the city. Under Arab and
Ottoman rule the city become an important trade center.
Napoleon's French Army occupied it in 1799 on its way to
Most of the town's Arab residents were expelled during the
1948 Arab-Israeli War while others remained in the town. The
town was subsequently repopulated by Jewish immigrants.
The Giv'on immigration detention centre is located in Ramla.
In recent years, attempts have been made to develop and
beautify the city, which has been plagued by neglect,
financial problems and a negative public image. New shopping
malls and public parks have been built, and a municipal
museum opened in 2001.
Early history --
According to the 9th century Arab geographer Ya'qubi, al-
Ramleh (Ramla) was founded in 716 by the Caliph Sulayman ibn
Abd al-Malik, and its name was derived from the Arabic word
Raml (رمل)-meaning sand. The early residents came from
nearby Ludd (Lydda, Lod). Ramla flourished as the capital of
Jund Filastin, which was one of the five districts of the
ash-Sham (Syrian) province of the Ummayad Caliphate and
Abbasid empire. In the 8th century, the Ummayads constructed
the White Mosque. Ramla was the principal city and district
capital until the arrival of the Crusaders in the 11th
century. Ramla's White Mosque was hailed as the finest in
the land, outside of Jerusalem. The remains of this mosque,
flanked by a minaret added at a later date, can still be
seen today. In the courtyard are underground water cisterns
from this period.
A geographer, el-Muqadasi ("the Jerusalemite"), describes
Ramla at the peak of its prosperity: "It is a fine city, and
well built; its water is good and plentiful; it fruits are
abundant. It combines manifold advantages, situated as it is
in the midst of beautiful villages and lordly towns, near to
holy places and pleasant hamlets. Commerce here is
prosperous, and the markets excellent...The bread is of the
best and the whitest. The lands are well favoured above all
others, and the fruits are the most luscious. This capital
stands among fruitful fields, walled towns and serviceable
Ramla's economic importance, shared with the neighboring
city of Lydda, was based on its strategic location. Ramla
was at the intersection of two major roads, one linking
Egypt with Syria and the other linking Jerusalem with the
In the early years of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem,
control over this strategic location led to three
consecutive battles between the Crusaders and Egyptian
armies from Ascalon. As Crusader rule stabilized, Ramla
became the seat of a seigneury in the Kingdom of Jerusalem
(the Lordship of Ramla within the County of Jaffa and
Ascalon). It was a city of some economic significance and an
important way station for pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem.
The Crusaders identified it with the biblical Ramathaim and
called it Arimathea.
Around 1163 Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela visited "Rama, or
Ramleh, where there are remains of the walls from the days
of our ancestors, for thus it was found written upon the
stones. About 300 Jews dwell there. It was formerly a very
great city; at a distance of two miles there is a large
Jewish cemetery." He wrote that the Crusaders had found
the bones of Samuel, the biblical prophet, close to a Jewish
synagogue in Ramla and "conveyed them unto Shiloh, and
erected over them a large church, and called it St. Samuel
of Shiloh unto this day". This site is identified with
Neby Samwil overlooking Jerusalem.
Ramla was sometimes referred to as Filastin, in keeping with
the common practice of referring to districts by the name of
their main city....