Sites & cities that bear the name of Al-Bireh


Today in : Palestine, State of
First trace of activity : ca. 11th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Be'erot?, בְּאֵרוֹת‎?, Βηρωθ?, Beeroth?, Beirothah, Castrum Mahomeria, Magna Mahomeria, Mahomeria Major, Birra, البيرة‎, el-Bira, al-Birah

Description : Al-Bireh, al-Birah, or el-Bira (Arabic: البيرة‎; also known historically as Castrum Mahomeria, Magna Mahomeria, Mahomeria Major, Birra, or Beirothah) is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) north of Jerusalem. It is situated on the central ridge running through the West Bank and is 860 meters (2,820 ft) above sea level, covering an area of 22.4 square kilometers (8.6 sq mi). Edward Robinson in the early 19th century thought Al-Bireh was the biblical Be'eroth, but modern scholars believe Be'eroth was located at Kh. el-Burj near Beit Iksa. Claude Reignier Conder and others identified it with Beirothah of the Samaritan chronicles. The Crusaders captured and named the town Birra. It was also called Castrum Mahomeria, Magna Mahomeria or Mahomeria Major. It was one of 21 villages given by King Godfrey as a fief to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1114, the gift was re-confirmed by Baldwin I of Jerusalem. In 1156, 92 people from Mahomeria pledged their allegiance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and a further 50 names were added in the next three decades. Hence, it has been estimated that the total Frankish population at this time was 500–700. The Crusaders built a castle, church and hospice there. The latter two buildings were built by the Knights Templar in 1146 and belonged to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Ayyubids under Saladin drove away the Crusaders from Birra when they reconquered interior Palestine after the Battle of Hattin in 1187, and completely demolished the town. Yaqut al-Hamawi mentions seeing the ruins a few times during his travels in the area. Nearing the end of Ayyubid rule, in 1280, the modern town of al-Bireh was an inhabited village. The Ayyubids built a mosque in the town dedicated to Umar ibn al-Khattab adjacent to the church ruins. Potsherds from the Crusader/Ayyubid era have been found.

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