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Christmas tree, Rafidia, 2016

Rafidia or Rafidiya[1] (Arabic: رفيديا‎‎) is a neighborhood in the western part of the Palestinian city of Nablus. It was a separate village until it was merged into the municipality in 1966.[2] There are currently three Palestinian Christian families and a Muslim one, although Christians number only over 700.[3] In 1961, Rafidia had 923 inhabitants, rising to 1,200 in 1983.[4]


The remains of a Crusader church was found by Victor Guérin in 1863; "today devided into ten or so rooms [..] inhabited by a number of families. This church, oriented from west to east was formerly dedicated to St George."[5][6][7] Today it is not possible to identify this building, as several buildings in Rafidia incorporate sections of old walls,[6][7] but Bagatti identified a wall at the north end of the village as being of Crusader origin.[7]

In 1882, SWP observed "foundations of a wall of good squared masonry, not drafted," south of the village.[8]

Ottoman era[edit]

The village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers under the name of Rafidya, as being in the nahiya of Jabal Qubal in the liwa of Nablus. It had a population of 9 Muslim households and 6 Muslim bachelors, and 85 Christian households. The inhabitants of the village paid taxes on wheat, barley, summer crops, olive trees, occasional revenues, goats and/or beehives, and an olive oil press, or press for grape syrup.[9]

Rafidia was at one time owned by the prominent Touqan family of Nablus. They ceded it to an Arab Christian family with Ghassanid origins from al-Karak, in modern-day Jordan in the 17th century. According to tradition, the family, consisting of a father, and his three sons and daughter had fled al-Karak to avoid marrying the daughter, Rafid, to Emir Udwan, a Muslim prince of the city. They initially migrated to Taybeh through the Dead Sea, but then moved north towards Nablus. At the time, there was one Muslim family in the area, al-Hassouneh, and after the Christian family settled, the two families split the land and the water between themselves equally. The village was named "Rafidia" in honor of Rafid.[3]

In 1838, Robinson found the village to be entirely Christian, and said to contain "115 taxable men, or nearly 500 inhabitants."[10] In 1863, Guérin found the village to have 300 inhabitants, almost all "Schismatic Greek" families, about 40 Catholic and the rest Muslims.[5] In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Rafidia as "a good-sized village on the hill-side, with a spring above it to the north-east and vegetable gardens below. The inhabitants are Greek Christians....A Protestant school is conspicuous in the middle of the village".[11]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Rafidia had a population of 438; 111 Muslims and 307 Christians,[12] where the Christians were 206 Orthodox, 44 Roman Catholics, 1 Melkite and 56 Church of England.[13] The population decreased at the time of the 1931 census to 355; 68 Muslims and 287 Christians, in 88 houses.[14]

In 1945 Rafidiya had a population of 430; 80 Muslims and 350 Christians,[15] with 2,004 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey,[16] Of this, 447 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 1,168 used for cereals,[17] while 32 dunams were built-up land.[18]


The Church of St. Justinus of Nablus is a Roman Catholic church built in 1887. In 1907, the Rosary sisterhood arrived in Nablus and Rafidia to serve the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and assist the priest in the service of the church by visiting the families and teaching children. They also set up the Rosary Sisters School in Nablus and Rafidia. As a result of the earthquake that hit Nablus in 1927, the church was damaged, but the Patriarchate renovated it and the church was reopened in 1931.[3]

The Church of St. Justinus underwent further renovation and expansion throughout various periods. In 1956, the new bell tower was built and the church was expanded, and then in 1980, the church was again renovated, expanded and painted with frescos and adorned with stained glass windows with church-related drawings.[3]

The Protestant Church of St. Matthew the Anglican was formerly a house that was rented in 1932 by the parish. The guest room was used as the church and the other rooms were used as a school for the church from that date on. It was never built as a church, but a house rented out to become a church and a Protestant school.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The infidels", according to Palmer, 1881, p. 189 See also Rafida
  2. ^ Nablus Nablus-City.
  3. ^ a b c d e Saadeh, Youssef Jubran. Christianity in Nablus An-Najah National University - Zajel. 27 June 2004.
  4. ^ Welcome to Rafidiya
  5. ^ a b Guérin, 1875, pp. 182 -183
  6. ^ a b Pringle, 1997, pp. 87 -88
  7. ^ a b c Pringle, 1998, pp. 178 -179
  8. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 210
  9. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 134.
  10. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 137
  11. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 163
  12. ^ Barron, 1923, Table IX, Sub-district of Nablus, p. 24
  13. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XV, p. 47
  14. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 64
  15. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 19
  16. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 60
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 107
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 157


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°13′20.30″N 35°14′04.58″E / 32.2223056°N 35.2346056°E / 32.2223056; 35.2346056