Travel

Land Of Olives - Battir Groves And Vineyards Of Palestine

Since ancient times, the terraced and irrigated farms of Battir have produced exquisite grapes and olives.

Battir is a village in the West Bank, south of West Jerusalem and it is popular with extensive stone terracing and ancient irrigation systems that are older than the Roman Empire. The breathtaking landscape forms the olive groves and the vineyards that showcase the traditional living that is now endangered. Battir is now a cultural and historical village which is ranked as endangered since 2014 following the Israeli policies to build a wall through the village. This policy sparked a lot of emotion both in the village and external bodies who feared the fragmentation and interference with the natural cycle of life that had been maintained by the villagers since ancient time. It was listed by UNESCO as world heritage site in 2014.

5. Description and History -

Battir is a Palestinian village located to the southwest of Jerusalem in the central highlands between Nablus and Hebron. The Battir hill landscape is comprised of farmed valley known as widians with stone terraces that are either dry or irrigated. The irrigated terraces are used for market gardening while the dry terraces are planted with grapevines and olive trees. The village is an ancient one formerly occupied by the Jews and was a fortress in the battle of Bar Kokhba revolt. It was captured by Israel in a six-day battle in 1949.

4. Tourism -

Tourists visit the Battir area to view archaeological sites such as the Herodium and Biyar aqueduct. The Herodium was declared a national park in 1985. The Herodium is built in Roman- inspired architectural designs. There are also historical features such as the Jerusalem- Jaffa railway, the Wadi Battir, Battir spring with fresh water, the Ottoman shrines, ancient irrigated gardens and rock cut tombs.

3. Uniqueness -

The unique character of Battir lies in the old agricultural features in the area. The elaborate irrigation system represents a unique technological expertise as the system that promotes a balanced human interaction with the natural environment to create a living environment. The dry-stone architecture is also a sustainable way of adaptation of land for agriculture. The village is strategically located in a well-watered place around the natural streams. Battir carries an aspect of the ancient human heritage through thousands of years and a unique way of life.

2. Natural Surroundings, Sights, and Sounds -

The valley of Battir is characterized by the rich natural environment of beautiful sites especially the Ecomuseum which offers a display of the unaltered natural environment which is a combined work of nature running through millennia.

1. Threats and Conservation Efforts-

Battir faces the threat of destruction to the natural habitat of the native by the construction of the security wall by Israel’s government. Battir was designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in Danger in 2014 after an outcry by legal bodies, archaeologists, and human rights organizations to protect this cultural and historical site. An Ecomuseum has been established to oversee participation of locals in the management and conservation of the Battir natural landscape and cultural heritage. The Palestinian laws, for example, the National Charter for the Conservation of cultural heritage in Palestine has played a significant role in the conservation of the heritage of the Battir Landscape.

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