Gaza is situated at the crossroads between Africa and Asia. Famous for its beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and archaeological treasures, Gaza has been a trading port and cultural center for thousands of years. Alexander the Great conquered Gaza in 332 B.C.E. Later it was ruled by the Romans. In 637, Gaza became part of the Islamic Empire. The Crusaders
invaded Gaza in 1100 and were defeated by Saladin in 1187. The Ottomans took control of Gaza in 1517 and stayed in power for more than 400 years. Napoleon Bonaparte came to Gaza on his route through Palestine in 1799. During World War I, Gaza was the scene of famous battles, and today there is a serene, beautifully landscaped British war cemetery in the city.
Gaza City is rich with history. The Great Omari A1osque is in the city’s Daraj Quarter. This famous mosque was built in the seventh century on the site of a Roman temple and is named after the Islamic second caliph Omar Ibn Khattab.
Just around the corner from the mosque is the famous Souq Dhahab, one of the oldest gold markets in the world. Another interesting site in Gaza is the Church of St. Porphyrus. This fifth-century Greek Orthodox church has an ornate ceiling and a striking collection of icons.
Gaza also is known for its rich archaeological resources. Byzantine ruins and tombs have recently been excavated in the northern part of Gaza. One can visit these archeological sites and see splendid mosaics with colorful animal and plant figures. Another must-see in Gaza is the Arts and Crafts Village. A beautifully designed gallery inspired by traditional Islamic architecture, the village offers for sale embroidery, copper, rugs, and pottery. It also exhibits modern art from renowned national and international artists. And don’t forget that the Gaza Strip includes other towns, such as Khan Younis, Rafah, and Deir Balah, rich with unique cultural and historical sites.