Ramla is a city in central Israel, about 30 Km from Tel Aviv. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region. Ramla lies along the route of the Via Maris, connecting Cairo with Damascus, at the intersection of the roads connecting the port of Jaffa with Jerusalem.
It was conquered many times in the course of its history, by the Abbasids, the Ikhshidids, the Fatamids, the Seljuqs, the Crusaders, the Mameluks, the Turks, the British, and the Israelis. After an outbreak of the Black Death in 1347, which greatly reduced the population, an order of Franciscan monks established a presence in the city. Under Arab and Ottoman rule the city became an important trade center. Napoleon’s French Army occupied it in 1799 on its way to Acre.
Most of the town’s Arab residents were expelled or fled during the 1948 Israeli independence War while others remained in the town. The town was subsequently repopulated by Jewish immigrants.
In recent years, attempts have been made to develop and beautify the city, which has been plagued by neglect, financial problems and a negative public image. New shopping malls and public parks have been built, and a municipal museum opened in 2001. The Ramla Museum is housed in the former municipal headquarters of the British Mandatory authorities. The building, from 1922, incorporates elements of Arab architecture such as arched windows and patterned tiled floors. After 1948, it was the central district office of the Israeli Ministry of Finance. In 2001, the building became a museum documenting the history of Ramla.
One of the main attractions in Ramla is The White Tower. This tower was built in the 13th century. It served as the minaret of the White Mosque erected by Caliph Suleiman in the 8th century, of which only remnants remain today. The tower is six-stories high, with a spiral staircase of 119 steps.
Another attraction in the Ramla is The Pool of Arches, an underground water cistern, it was built during the reign of the caliph Haroun al-Rashid in 789 AD (the early Islamic period) to provide Ramla with a steady supply of water.
The Ramla market is one of the most colorful, successful and beautiful marketplaces in Israel. The market was founded at the end of the Ottoman period and is over 100 years old.