Qalqīlyah, West Bank

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Qalqīlyah, West Bank

Region: West Bank

Geographic Coordinates: 32.190300, 34.968600
Climate: Climate and weather patterns in Qalqīlyah, West Bank vary throughout the year.
Population: 51683
Language: Arabic

Qalqīlyah is a vibrant city located in the northern part of the West Bank, Palestine. Situated just 12 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, It is surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque landscapes. The city’s name derives from the Arabic word Qal’at al-Qulaylah, Meaning Fortress of Qulaylah, Symbolizing its historical significance as a fortified town. With a population of around 55, 000 people, Qalqīlyah has evolved into an urban center that offers a unique blend of modernity and traditional Palestinian culture. The city boasts well-planned streets lined with shops, Cafes, And bustling markets where locals gather to socialize and trade goods.

Its charming old town showcases narrow alleys adorned with beautiful stone buildings that reflect the region’s rich architectural heritage. One notable landmark in Qalqīlyah is its iconic separation wall, Which runs along its eastern border. This wall serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also acts as an outdoor canvas for local artists who have transformed it into an open-air art gallery depicting powerful messages of resistance and hope. For history enthusiasts, Qalqīlyah offers several intriguing archaeological sites worth exploring. One such site is Khirbat Al-Mafjar, Also known as Hisham’s Palace ruins.

Dating back to the Umayyad period (8th century AD), This ancient complex showcases exquisite mosaics and architectural remnants that provide insights into early Islamic civilization. Nature lovers will find solace in the surrounding countryside where they can embark on hikes or picnics amidst olive groves and vineyards dotting the landscape. Just south of Qalqīlyah lies Wadi el-Far’a Nature Reserve—a serene oasis teeming with diverse flora and fauna—making it an ideal spot for birdwatching or simply unwinding in nature’s embrace. Qalqīlyah’s strategic location also makes it a convenient base for exploring other nearby attractions.

The coastal city of Netanya is a short drive away, Offering beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. Additionally, The historic city of Nablus, Famous for its bustling markets and traditional soap production, Can be reached within an hour’s drive. Qalqīlyah is a captivating destination that seamlessly intertwines history, Culture, And natural beauty. Its welcoming atmosphere coupled with its unique blend of modernity and tradition ensures that visitors will have an enriching experience while exploring this remarkable part of the West Bank.

Important Landmarks

  1. Qalqilyah Zoo: The city’s zoo is one of its main attractions, known for its diverse collection of animals including lions, tigers, monkeys, birds, and reptiles.
  2. Martyrs’ Museum: This museum pays tribute to Palestinian martyrs who lost their lives during conflicts with Israel. It showcases exhibits that depict the history and struggles of Palestinians.
  3. Old City Walls: Qalqilyah’s old city walls are remnants from ancient times and provide a glimpse into the city’s historical past.
  4. Clock Tower Square: Located at the heart of the city, Clock Tower Square is a central meeting point for locals and visitors alike. It features a prominent clock tower surrounded by shops and cafes.
  5. Al-Nabi Elias Mosque: This mosque is an important religious site in Qalqilyah with beautiful architecture that attracts both locals and tourists.
  6. Olive Tree Reserve: Just outside the city lies an olive tree reserve where visitors can enjoy peaceful walks among centuries-old olive trees—a symbol of Palestinian heritage.
  7. Wall Museum (Separation Wall): While not exactly within Qalqilyah itself but nearby on its outskirts stands part of Israel’s Separation Wall (also known as Apartheid Wall). The wall has become an open-air gallery where artists express their political messages through murals depicting various aspects related to Palestine-Israel conflict.

It’s worth noting that due to political circumstances surrounding Qalqilyah being located in occupied territory, access to certain areas or sites might be restricted or subject to change based on security situations or regulations imposed by Israeli authorities.

Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: Qalqilyah is known for its fertile agricultural lands, and farming plays a significant role in the local economy. Olive trees are particularly abundant, and olive oil production is a major industry.
  2. Manufacturing: The city has several small-scale manufacturing industries that produce various products such as textiles, furniture, food processing (including dairy products), construction materials, and metalwork.
  3. Construction: With ongoing development projects in the area, construction companies are prominent in Qalqilyah.
  4. Retail and Services: The city has a bustling retail sector with numerous shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and other service-oriented businesses catering to local residents’ needs.
  5. Education: Qalqilyah hosts several educational institutions ranging from schools to universities. These establishments provide employment opportunities for teachers and administrative staff.
  6. Healthcare: The healthcare sector is essential within any community; thus hospitals, clinics pharmacies exist to cater to the medical needs of residents.
  7. Tourism: While not as developed as some other cities in the region due to political circumstances surrounding its location near the Israeli security barrier (wall), Qalqilyah does attract tourists interested in exploring its history and culture.

It’s important to note that due to political factors such as occupation-related restrictions on movement or access imposed by Israel on Palestinian territories like West Bank cities including Qalqilyah may face unique challenges that impact their economic activities or potential for growth.

Noteable History

Historical Events in Qalqilyah

  1. Ancient Roots: Qalqilyah has ancient roots dating back to biblical times. It is believed to be the site of the ancient city of Calneh mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
  2. Ottoman Era: During the Ottoman Empire’s rule, Qalqilyah was an administrative center and a part of the Nablus Sanjak (district). It had significant agricultural importance due to its fertile lands.
  3. British Mandate Period: Under British rule (1920-1948), Qalqilyah experienced growth and development. The town became an important transportation hub connecting Haifa and Jerusalem.
  4. 1948 Arab-Israeli War: During this war, Qalqilyah came under Jordanian control as part of the West Bank region annexed by Jordan.
  5. Israeli Occupation: After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupied Qalqilyah along with other parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during their military campaign against neighboring countries.
  6. Oslo Accords: In 1995, Israel transferred partial control over certain areas within Qalqilyah to Palestinian Authority administration under interim agreements known as Oslo Accords.
  7. Barrier Construction: In response to security concerns during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), Israel built a separation barrier around Qalqilyah that largely encloses it from three sides, restricting movement for residents.

Notable People from Qalqilyah

  1. Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972): A prominent Palestinian writer and political activist born in Acre but raised in Jaffa near present-day Tel Aviv-Jaffa who later moved to Damascus, Syria.
  2. Marwan Barghouti (born 1959): A Palestinian political leader and former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Barghouti is known for his involvement in the First and Second Intifadas.
  3. Naif Abu Sharakh (born 1966): A Palestinian artist born in Qalqilyah, known for his sculptures made from recycled materials, depicting the hardships faced by Palestinians under occupation.
  4. Samih al-Qasim (1939-2014): A renowned Palestinian poet born in Zarqa, Jordan but spent much of his life in Qalqilyah. Al-Qasim’s poetry often addressed themes of resistance, exile, and identity.

These are just a few notable historical events and people associated with Qalqilyah; there are many more individuals who have contributed to its history and culture.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Qalqilya Zoo: Located on the outskirts of the city, the zoo is home to a variety of animals and offers a great opportunity for families to enjoy nature.
  2. Museum of Martyrdom: This museum showcases the history and struggle of Palestinians through various exhibits and artifacts related to Palestinian resistance movements.
  3. The Wall Museum: Situated near the separation wall built by Israel in Qalqilyah, this museum provides insight into the impact of the wall on Palestinian communities through photographs, artworks, and personal stories.
  4. Municipal Gallery for Modern Art: This art gallery displays contemporary works by local artists from Qalqilyah and across Palestine. It offers a glimpse into the modern Palestinian art scene.
  5. Old City Market: Explore the bustling market streets in Qalqilyah’s old city center where you can find traditional handicrafts, clothing, fresh produce, spices, and more.
  6. Al-Nabi Elias Mosque: A historic mosque located near Qalqilyah’s main square with beautiful architecture worth visiting.
  7. The Olive Oil Press Museum (Burj al-Luqluq): Located in nearby Nablus (around 30 km away), this museum showcases traditional olive oil production methods used for centuries in Palestine.
  8. Balata Refugee Camp: Just outside Nablus lies one of Palestine’s largest refugee camps – Balata Camp – where visitors can learn about Palestinian refugee issues firsthand through guided tours or community initiatives organized by local NGOs.

Please note that due to political circumstances or changes over time, some places may have different accessibility or availability levels; it is always recommended to check current travel advisories before planning your visit.

Sports Teams

  1. Qalqilyah Sports Club: The Qalqilyah Sports Club is a multi-sport club that participates in football (soccer) competitions at the local level. While their history might not be well-documented, they provide opportunities for young athletes to engage in the sport.
  2. Balata Youth Center: Although located in Nablus rather than Qalqilyah, Balata Youth Center is known for its football team’s participation in regional tournaments and youth leagues.
  3. Local Basketball Teams: There are several basketball teams within Qalqilyah that compete against each other and occasionally participate in regional or national competitions organized by Palestinian basketball associations.

It’s important to note that due to political circumstances and limited resources, professional sports infrastructure or long-standing team histories may be less prevalent compared to some other regions globally. Nonetheless, these local teams play an essential role in promoting physical activity and community engagement within their respective areas of operation.

Cultural Events

  1. Qalqīlyah International Festival: This annual festival celebrates Palestinian culture and heritage through various activities such as music performances, art exhibitions, traditional dance shows, theatrical plays, and culinary experiences.
  2. Olive Harvest Festival: As olive trees hold great cultural significance in Palestinian society, this festival takes place during the olive harvest season (October to November). It offers visitors an opportunity to participate in picking olives while enjoying traditional music, food stalls serving local cuisine, and folkloric dancing.
  3. Qalqīlyah Summer Nights Festival: During the summer months (July-August), this festival brings together locals and tourists for a series of outdoor events held at different locations across the city. These include concerts by local musicians, open-air movie screenings, street performances by artists and acrobats.
  4. Palestinian Heritage Week: Organized annually by Qalqīlyah Municipality in collaboration with local cultural organizations and institutions, this week-long event showcases various aspects of Palestinian heritage including traditional clothing displays, handicraft exhibitions featuring embroidery or pottery workshops.
  5. Qalqīlyah Christmas Market: In December around Christmas time when Christians celebrate their religious holiday in Palestine’s predominantly Christian cities like Bethlehem or Ramallah; Qalqilya also joins the festive spirit with its own Christmas market offering artisan crafts stalls selling souvenirs related to Christmas traditions along with live performances of carol singing groups.

Please note that due to political circumstances or unforeseen events these festivals may undergo changes in dates or formats from year to year; it is advisable to check for updated information closer to your intended visit date.


  1. Mansaf: This traditional Palestinian dish is widely enjoyed in Qalqilyah. It consists of lamb cooked in a fermented dried yogurt sauce called jameed and served with rice or bread.
  2. Musakhan: Another famous Palestinian dish, musakhan features roasted chicken seasoned with sumac and served on a bed of taboon bread topped with caramelized onions and pine nuts.
  3. Maqluba: Meaning upside down in Arabic, maqluba is a flavorful one-pot dish made with layers of rice, vegetables (such as eggplant, cauliflower, or potatoes), and meat (chicken or lamb). When served, it is flipped upside down to reveal the beautiful arrangement.
  4. Falafel Abu Hassan: Located near Qalqilyah in the city of Tulkarem, Falafel Abu Hassan is renowned for its mouthwatering falafel sandwiches made from freshly ground chickpeas mixed with herbs and spices.
  5. Al-Badawi Restaurant: Situated within Qalqilyah itself, Al-Badawi Restaurant serves delectable Middle Eastern dishes such as grilled meats (kebabs), shawarma wraps filled with juicy marinated meat slices, hummus dips, salads, and more.
  6. Al-Yasmeen Bakery: A popular bakery known for its freshly baked breads like taboon bread (used for musakhan) and ka’ak al-Quds (Jerusalem sesame bagels). They also offer various pastries like knafeh (a sweet cheese-filled dessert).
  7. Al-Hamra Restaurant: Located nearby in Nablus city but worth mentioning due to its popularity among locals from Qalqilyah; this restaurant specializes in serving traditional Palestinian dishes like maqluba, musakhan, and mansaf.

Remember that Qalqilyah is a smaller city compared to others in the region, so some of the popular dining options may be found in nearby cities. Nonetheless, these dishes and restaurants offer a great taste of authentic Palestinian cuisine.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Martyrs Park: Located in the center of Qalqilyah, Martyrs Park is a spacious green area with walking paths, benches, and beautiful landscaping. It’s an excellent place for leisurely walks or picnics.
  2. Al-Najah Park: Situated near Qalqilyah University, Al-Najah Park is a popular spot for families and students. It features playgrounds, sports fields, jogging tracks, and picnic areas.
  3. The Wall Garden: Located near the separation wall that surrounds Qalqilyah, this park offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and Israeli settlements on one side while showcasing murals depicting Palestinian life on the other.
  4. Sports Complex: Qalqilyah has a well-equipped sports complex that includes facilities for football (soccer), basketball courts, tennis courts, and running tracks.
  5. Cultural Center: The city’s cultural center hosts various events such as concerts, theater performances, art exhibitions promoting local talent.
  6. Hiking in Wadi Kanaan: Just outside Qalqilyah lies Wadi Kanaan nature reserve—a beautiful valley offering hiking trails amidst lush vegetation and natural springs.
  7. Agricultural Tourism: Visitors can engage in agricultural tourism activities like olive picking or grape harvesting during specific seasons to experience rural life firsthand.

Please note that due to political circumstances or changes in local regulations/restrictions these options may vary over time; it is always advisable to check with local authorities or tourism offices for up-to-date information before planning any visit or activity.


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