From the busy Al-Manara square, the city centre of Ramallah, where many streets meet, you can walk to the seat of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), established at Al-Muqata'a. Soon after leaving the main square behind, the surroundings become more quiet. After a while, the surroundings open up; on the left, there is a view in the distance over the hills surrounding Ramallah, while on the right you see some buildings. Turn right, and you will find the mausoleum of Chairman Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, icon and long-time face of the Palestinian cause, controversial figure, who managed to survive a dangerous life but who, according to some, still died under suspicious circumstances in a Paris hospital in 2004.
The mausoleum of Arafat consists of a brand-new square construction of Jerusalem stone and glass, surrounded by water on three sides. It measures 11 by 11 metres, a reference to the date he died - 11 November. The Israelis did not want to grant Arafat's last wish: to be buried in or near the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, which belongs to the Palestinians according to the 1967 borders and which the Palestinians still hope will be their capital one day. To underline the and symbolize temporary state of the mausoleum, it was built on the spot of a natural spring; it is surrounded by water. Furthermore, a piece of rail track was entombed under Arafat's tomb.
Next to the Arafat mausoleum is a modern mosque, in the same style as the mausoleum. From its triangular minaret, a laser beam points directly to Jerusalem, another display of the wish to be buried in East Jerusalem, and to establish it as the capital of the Palestinian state. For the moment, however, the headquarters of the PNA is still right behind the mausoleum. This is also the compound that was under siege and largely destroyed by the Israelis in 2002, during which Arafat was humiliated right in his own home. A museum in Arafat's honour is planned behind his mausoleum, but we found no evidence of it during our visit. The mausoleum was remarkably empty during our visit: two guards solemnly stood behind his tomb while we were in the mausoleum, but took a less official pose as soon as we were out.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Arafat Mausoleum (Palestinian Territories). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Arafat Mausoleum. Read more about this site.