Deir Ghassaneh stands out among the Palestinian village of the highlands. For more than four hundred years it was an Ottoman 'throne village, its feudal sheikhs ruling over surrounding communities as far away as the coastal plains and enriching themselves with the taxes levied on the peasants.
The Town Square - From the fortified tower that guards the village square you can walk through the narrow alleyways into the fine residential compounds described in the memoirs of Omar es-Saleh al Barghouti, the son of Deir Ghassaneh’s last feudal lord. The alternating bands of colored stone and pointed archways are typical of seventeenth century Ottoman architecture. You are welcome to wander around, but remember that despite their dilapidated appearance these are still family homes.
The Women’s Association - You can meet some of the women of Deir Ghassaneh at the Women’s Association, close to the shrine of Sheikh Khaled. The 40 or so women who form the association work to advance opportunities for girls and women in what remains a conservative rural community. They produce herbs and handicrafts, run a small museum of rural Palestinian culture, and cook meals for the children of two village schools. If you reserve in advance, the women will also prepare homemade Palestinian food for guests, or even show guests how to cook these dishes.
The Shrine of Sheikh Khaled - Just beyond the center of the village is the domed shrine of Sheikh Khaled, an Ottoman era shrine built for a local holy man whose story is long forgotten, and now converted into a garden for local children. If it is not open, ask around – the neighbors will find you the key.