28 Jun 2019
Battir, Palestine
Sustainable Tourism

Just outside Jerusalem, Dar Abu Hassan Guest House provides a welcoming home for visitors to discover the natural and cultural beauty of Battir. Over centuries, this proud village has thoroughly earned its nickname as “The Basket of Vegetables,” producing an abundance of grapes, figs and olives.

Dar Abu Hassan can help its guests unlock Battir’s rich heritage, from leading tours of the area’s ancient agricultural terraces to hosting a modern-day seed-saving project. “We hope to welcome any and all who would like to experience a local view of Palestine,” said Hassan Muamer, owner of Dar Abu Hassan.

Set in a beautiful, 100 year-old residence, Dar Abu Hassan is a family-run guest house that supports sustainable agriculture and eco-friendly tourism. Battir is an ideal setting for these projects, with no shortage of activities to delight environmentally conscious tourists. 

Dar Abu Hassan leads guided tours and hikes of the stunning mountain countryside around Battir. Local experts can give plenty of information about Battir’s leading attraction — its agricultural terraces, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There, you will learn about sustainable agriculture from the ancients, who cultivated Battir’s hilly terrain with grassy ledges supported by underground irrigation channels. 

Back at the guest house, Dar Abu Hassan hosts the Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library. Vivien Sansour created this initiative to preserve ancient seed varieties and ensure the survival of traditional farming practices.

Dar Abu Hassan also does valuable work to preserve local culture. Guests can take Palestinian cooking courses, which use locally grown and organic ingredients. The program incentivizes local farmers to use organic agriculture techniques, while also providing a market for their produce.

Dar Abu Hassan is a self-sustaining small business. Muamer says that his staff continue to brainstorm ways to persuade more visitors to visit Battir, given that some do not feel comfortable travelling outside more established tourism centers like Bethlehem. Dar Abu Hassan currently advertises the business via Facebook, but is looking into other ways of getting the word out.

Eye-opening, rewarding experiences await those who do make the short journey to Battir from Bethlehem or Jerusalem. Recently, for instance, Dar Abu Hassan taught around 25 eager guests how to make warak diwali (stuffed grape leaves) the authentic way. 

Muamer enjoyed bringing the taste of Palestine to his visitors. “We had a blast sharing our culinary heritage and local history with our guests — and of course sharing a delicious home-cooked meal!”

 

Learn more about Dar Abu Hassan Guest House through Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Dar Abu Hassan Guest House

Since completing his MA in Middle Eastern Studies two years ago, David has worked as a freelance journalist based in Accra, Ghana, and Cairo, Egypt.
David Wood
Ancient farming and cultural practices live on in the mountains of Palestine | The Switchers
Dar Abu Hassan Guest House Sustainable Tourism
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