A small town in the middle of the Promised Land, the setting for many of the episodes recounted in the Old Testament: this is Sabastiya, the ancient Samaria, the capital of the kingdom of Samaria. Here, the Bible talks about kings and prophets, and here, according to tradition, is where St. John the Baptist’s tomb is located.
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In order to welcome those who visit these places, the Association pro Terra Sancta and the Mosaic Centre Jericho, with the help of the Belgian Cooperation, have built a new guest house, as Osama Hamdan, director of Mosaic Centre Jericho, should be “a place where visitors, tourists, pilgrims, but also local visitors can have the opportunity to experience something special. The Palestinian experience: Palestinian hospitality, food, atmosphere and friendship”.
Carla Benelli, coordinator of the project for Association pro Terra Sancta says “Sabastiya is a site that any ancient pilgrim would have visited. Pilgrims would stop at the tomb of John the Baptist and the fact that this place is not visited by more pilgrims is pretty sad. It just seemed appropriate to do something about it: a very little tourism but this is the type of tourism that could allow people to have a very different view of Palestine and the Palestinian people: a very warm, good, friendly people. This was just the idea that, as an association of the Franciscans, we wanted to promote”.