Importance of Culture and Heritage
In the dire period of upsurge of violence and occupation, Palestinians are fervent to protect and promote their identity, cultural heritage and cultural way of life. Culture has the power to transform entire societies, to promote citizenship, to connect people and sustain social and economic.
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Palestine’s countryside bears witness to the many cultures which have come to Palestine, some to stay and some to pass on. The Sufi shrines, once at the center of village life, represent one such culture. They were built as lodges for the wandering ascetics who came from the east in the 9th and 10thcenturies in search of meditation and brought Islam to Palestine’s Central Highlands. From the time of the Crusades to the end of the Ottoman Empire, these shrines were part of a living tradition of folk religion and pilgrimage. They were often built on the sites of the Byzantine churches, Roman garrisons or prehistoric caves.
Rozana’s Village Trails allow visitors to become immersed in the local life of Palestinian villages. The long history of the many cultures and civilizations which have passed through the country over the centuries will be obvious – from the “dabkeh” dance (amazing to watch but also fun for tourists to try), to the ancient soap-making process, to the traditional hospitality of rural Palestine.
Rozana designs tours of differing difficulty and length: shorter ones for minimal walking with travel by vehicle between villages, and longer, more difficult ones, such as the Sebastiya tour which includes an over-night stay in a guest-house, amidst the Roman and Byzantine ruins of the old city.
It is a journey which celebrates not only the countryside through which it passes but also the cultures, antiquities and hospitality along the way Four millennia ago Abraham walked this path on his way to the Negev from Turkey. Today hikers can walk in Abraham’s footsteps from Jenin in northern Palestine to Nablus, passing through habitats for flowers and animals unique to Palestine, terraced olive groves, and villages where a meal might be waiting, or a bed in a Bedouin tent. There are high places for magnificent views all the way to the Mediterranean and low places where desert ecosystems will enchant. For more information see Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil and Abraham Path Initiative websites.