Al-Bireh city is considered one of the ancient cities of Palestine. It is extremely close and connected to Ramallah and they are considered as one city. It has the area of 22 km2 with a population of approximately 80000.
The history of this city goes back to the Canaanite period when it was named “Beeroth” which means “water wells” in Aramaic. During the Roman period, the city of Al-Bireh was known as Berta (“Castle”). Al-Bireh was also an important place for the Knights Templars and was a strategic location for the Islamic soldiers to launch attacks against the Crusaders.
Al-Bireh is an important archeological and historical city. For example, “Tal Al-Nasba”, which is an important archaeological site from the Middle Bronze Age, is located 3 Km. south of the city.
Al-Bireh is important in Christianity because Jesus Christ passed through it on his journey from Jerusalem to Nazareth. Jesus left His mother and remained in Jerusalem, and when His parents found out that He was missing, she went back from Al-Bireh to Jerusalem so that they would leave to Nazareth together. This is why the Byzantine church was built in that place, and its remnants are still found in the Old City of Al-Bireh and it is known as the "Holy Family Church".
According to Islamic tradition, Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab passed through Al-Bireh on his trip from Medina to Jerusalem and prayed in it. A mosque was therefore built in his name (“Al-Omari mosque”) in 1195 A.D. Al-Omari mosque is still functional till the present day and is found next to the Byzantine Church.
Also, Al-Bireh is rich with old buildings, and a total of 380 old buildings are found in it.