The aim of the project was to create an information base for a tourism-conservation program for the city which is predicated on archaeology, history and culture. The program will present the richness and diversity of Ramla to public.
The city of Ramla was established by Suleiman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik (705-715 CE) as the capital of Jund Filistin (the army or military district of Palestine). This is the only “civilian” city that was built by the Muslims in the Land of Israel and Syria. During the tenth and eleventh centuries CE Ramla was laid waste by Bedouin attacks and frequent earthquakes, and most of its citizens moved to Jerusalem. In 1099 CE the Crusaders conquered the city on their way to Jerusalem and they occupied it until it was re-conquered by the Mamluk sultan, Beybers, in the year 1266 CE. The city was ruled by the British Mandatory government from 1917 and it came under Israeli control in 1948 after it was conquered during Operation Danny.
In Ramla there is a wide range of construction technologies and styles, such as the water storage technology of the Umayyad period (The Pool of the Arches), the Crusader building technology (The White Mosque) and the Ottoman technology (the historic city).
The physical problems that stem from the intentional destruction of buildings and the historic fabric are apparent at Ramla’s sites and in its historic complexes; new building additions have been added unchecked to historic buildings; renovations of historic buildings have been implemented utilizing unsuitable materials and technologies; projects initiated by the local authorities such as large infrastructure works have damaged the foundations of buildings; and heavy mechanical equipment has been used in historic areas.
In order to formulate the program and to advance conservation in the city we conducted a preliminary urban survey that is based on previous surveys: a Mandatory survey (part of which is lost) and Petersen’s survey from the 1990’s. The survey included all of the buildings appearing in the previous surveys and other buildings that were deemed relevant to the historical study of the city. In doing so we conducted an analysis of maps and aerial photographs that date from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present. The survey included 27 sites in the Old City, most of them concentrated in Ramla’s Ottoman city compound.
The survey booklet includes a description of the buildings and areas, an analysis of the city’s development and the effect of modern development on its historic fabric, and a division of the Old City into compounds based on building characteristics and land use.
The survey proposes an analysis and division of the Old City sites into topical groups as a basis for a tourism program.
In order to further the preservation of the city’s heritage we have recommended conducting an extensive and detailed survey of the city of Ramla so as to identify and understand its archaeological-historical values, to prepare an overall plan for conservation and development, to physically preserve the historic buildings, to preserve the historic urban fabric and prepare a general maintenance plan for those same sites and historic entities that are of cultural significance.
In order that the preservation of Ramla’s historic city be effective, it is necessary to integrate the conservation and maintenance plans into the town planning and view them as a fundamental part of the urban fabric. We believe it is important that the sites be incorporated into the daily life of the city and that they be used as a means to preserve them and enhance the prestige of Ramla.