Geographical Location & Historical Overview
Ramla – geographical location:
The city of ramla is located in the interior Coastal plain (Shefela) on the border of the Coastal strip in the central part of the country. It is built on a plateau area at an elevation of 75 meters above sea level.
Ramla is located at the crossroads of several important highways: from west to east is one of the major routes from Tel-Aviv and the coast to Jerusalem and the Judean Mountains region. From south to north is the route which brings traffic from the southern part of the country via Bilo Junction northward to the International Airport in Lod (next to Ramla) and continuing on from there to Petah-tikva and the north of the country.
Ramla is located in the heart of an agricultural zone. The water supply to the city is provided by a main water line of "Mekorot". This main water line from Rosh Ha'Ayan to the south of the country (the Yarkon – Negev line) passes to the east of Ramla.\
Ramla's location in the interior Coastal Plain (Shefela) provides the city with an impressive panoramic view of Judea and Samaria. This together with the many historical sites in and around the city, and its location at the axis of major routes is bound to turn it into a tourist pearl.
The city of Ramla is the capital of the Central District (one of the 6 Districts in Israel). The Administrative office of the District Commissioner (the Interior Ministry) is located here.
The Central District extends to the Tel-Aviv District to the west. The Haifa District to the north, the Jerusalem District to the east and the Be'er Sheva District to the south. The Central includes 4 subdistricts: the Sharon, Petah Tikva, Ramla, and Rhovot. It also includes 6 important cities (Ramla, Lod, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, Petah Tikva, and Natanya). There are 16 Regional Councils and the total number of populated areas in the District totals about 210 cities, towns, villages, and agricultural settlements.
The city of Ramla is located in a specific area of the interior Coastal Plain – the Lod Valley. Due to this location, the climatic condition area more extreme than in the rest of the Coastal Plain.
During the summer season the city does not benefit from the moderating nearness n of the sea and therefore the daytime temperature usually reach a daily average (in month august) of 32C (90F). In definitive measurements the temperature reached 42.5C (109F).
In the winter the temperature are likely to drop considerably, especially during the night, and in January temperature of -2C (28F) have been measured. This results in the need for heating about 75 days a year (spread out over a period 4 month a year).
The relative humidity in the area of the city in high on summer days and also on winter days, and therefore during the night there is frequently fog due to the drop in temperature.
"thermal load" (a result of the high temperatures and high relative humidity) is felt intermittently during a period of about 6 month during the year and during the summer month the number of medium "thermal load" days reaches about 45 per year.
The rainfall in the Ramla area reaches a yearly average of 510 – 520 mm. the strongest rains are usually at the beginning of the winter (about December).
The prevailing winds change from winter to summer and along with this southerly winds are common year round especially during the morning and nighttime hours. During the summer months westerly winds are common during the daytime hours changing direction to the north towards the evening. During the winter months the southerly winds continue throughout the daytime hours and only change direction to the north during the evening hours. These prevailing winds are an important factor in determining the character of physical planning for the city, especially in light of the relatively difficult climate.
Historical overview :
The city of Ramla was founded by the Muslim Caliph Suleiman Ibn Abd al Malech in the year 716 C.E. at the crossroads of two historic routs: from the south to the north (the eastern sea route from the south to Aram-Syria) and the route from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The city is located in the heart of the interior Coastal Plain and its site is identified with "Gat of the Philistines" (in books of ancient journies) or the biblical "Rama" (the home of Samuel the Prophet).
With its establishment, Ramla was designated to be the administrative capital of the Palestine District (Jund) in the Muslim empire of the house of "Omiyah". The city was a government and commerce focal point and even factories for dying and tanning were built there, which drew a population from among 6 different religions. The history of a Jewish presence in the city begins from the year 720 C.E. The city also flourished as the center of an agricultural region and in contrast to other cities in Israel it was abundant in produce gardens and flower gardens (this is also a prominent element in the present city scenery).
The different rulers from the house of Omiyah enlarged the city and added public buildings and pools for collecting spring water that was brought in through canals or aqueducts (such as "pool of the Arches that was built during the rule of the Caliph Haroon al Rashid"). During this period Ramla was the biggest city in the land of Israel.
In the year 969 C.E., with the conquest by Fatan caliphs, the city began to lose its standing. Two powerful earthquakes which took place between 1033 – 1067 C.E. badly damaged the city. The subsequent conquest of the city in 1071 C.E. by the Seljuk invaders caused the almost total destruction of the city, thinning of the population and the almost total liquidation of the Karaite and Samaritan communities.
At the end of the 11th century the Crusaders conquered Ramla from the Muslims. During the period of the Crusader occupation, Ramla was known as Rammta or Rama (Rams). An entrance was built in the style of a typical Crusader Romantic Basilica (the Basilica remains until today – it is now used as the great Muslim Mosque and is a typical example of Crusader architecture). Ramla was also an important battlefield in the wars of "Richard the Lion Hearted" against the Muslims until Muslim rule prevailed in 1260 C.E.
With the control of the Muslim kingdom, Ramla once again began to flourish and even its Jewish population was restored. At the same time the city became an important transit point for Christian pilgrams on their way to Jerusalem and in 1396 C.E. the Franciscan monks established a hostel there.
In 1516 C.E. Ramla was conquered by the Turkish army on its way to Egypt. In the first years of the occupation the importance of the city rose to the extent that on Turkish maps from that period, Jaffa is called "the port of Ramla".
In 1546 C.E. there was a violent earthquake that caused the destruction of the city. It was then rebuilt by the Turks and became a focal point for widespread commercial activity. Ramla of this period is mentioned in many travel documents and also appears on many engravings and illustrations from the same period.
Napoleon's conquest drive brought him to Ramla on February 29, 1799 and he established his headquarters there – in the Franciscan Monastery (which stands today Herzl St.)
In 1870 the Jewish population in Ramla was renewed it was reduced and then disappeared during the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. During the 19th century Ramla was used as a District city and the seat of the Turkish District Governor. at the end of the century Ramla was even an important station on the railway line between Jaffa and Jerusalem.
With the British conquest of the south of the country during World War I, Ramla fell into the hands of the British on November 15, 1917. They used it, and the surrounding area, as a concentration point for their troops who later conquered Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.
In 1927 there was an earthquake in Ramla which caused the destruction of many houses and some loss of life. During the period of the development of the national Arab movement, which was hostile to the Jews, until the outbreak of the anti-Jewish riots of 1936, Ramla was emptied of its Jewish residents and the adjacent Jewish settlements. With the outbreak of the war of liberation, Ramla was used as an important organizational base for gangs that attacked transport on the way to Jerusalem. After the first attack by the "Etzel" to conquer the city, a comprehensive military operation was carried out (Operation "Dani" – in memory of Dani Mas, a Hagana company commander) with the participation of forces from the Jephthah Battalion (from the Palmach Brigade), and battalions from the Kiryati and Alexsandroni Brigades. After the fall of the city of Lod to the Hebrew forces, Ramla surrendered to them on July 12, 1948. Shortly after it was conquered, Ramla began to absorb the first new immigrants (November 1948) and the long and important process (which continues today) of absorbing immigration and building a city with a heterogenous character, was begun.