Dar Jacir photographed by Taufik Basil, Bethlehem, circa 1890. Dar Jacir Archives.

Dar Jacir was built in the late 1880’s by Yusuf Ibrahim Jacir, a mukhtar of Bethlehem. He was the town’s registrar and trustee because he kept a record of all newborns as well as the population of the city. He was also renowned for his skill and expertise in mother-of-pearl carving. The Jacir family is part of the Faraheeya clan, one of the original seven clans of Bethlehem.

The house was built as a residential home for the family and a place to welcome friends and family who came to visit from abroad, mainly from Europe and South and Central America. It was one of the first houses located at the main entrance to Bethlehem from Jerusalem on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron road. In addition to the main house, a small stone structure was built to store food and other goods. The land around the house consists of a beautiful garden with olive trees, and typical traditional Palestinian stone terraces. The sanasil (the stone retaining walls) were recently restored as part of the renovation of Dar Jacir, as were the wrought iron gate and other ironwork.

Since its early days the house has witnessed family weddings, festivities, celebrations, family births, sad moments of family passage, reunions, as well as national uprisings and historic events in Palestine.  

Yusuf was the father of Suleiman Jacir, known for his courage and generosity, and his great compassion for the needy. He was twice elected as Bethlehem mayor in 1899-1903 and 1903-1907. Suleiman held the rank of a “mir miran,” which was an Ottoman equivalent to a governor. Suleiman and his brothers became successful merchants internationally with offices in Bethlehem, Barranquilla, Beirut and Paris.

The house remained the main Jacir residence during the construction next door of the Suleiman Jacir palace from 1910 to 1914. Every week Suleiman and his family served food to passersby and those in need. Everyone was welcome and people came from far and wide knowing they would be received. Until today the famous saying “يهووو الفتيت في دار جاسر (the food is at Dar Jacir)” still resonates with those from the area and beyond. The house witnessed the changing of control over Palestine from Ottoman rule to the British Mandate.

When the family went bankrupt in 1929, the Suleiman Jacir Palace as well as the original Jacir home, were lost to the family. Everything was sold in an auction, which also included most of their furniture and belongings. In the aftermath, Suleiman and his wife and children were the only ones who remained in Bethlehem.

The British authorities used the Suleiman Jacir Palace as a prison and British Army HQ, the original Dar Jacir home next door was purchased by the Qawwas family.

After the 1948 Nakba, the Suleiman Jacir Palace became Al Ummah Secondary School, when the school was forced to move from Jerusalem’s Al Baka neighborhood to Bethlehem and Dar Jacir became the residence of the superintendent of Al Ummah as well as a home for the school’s boarders. During this period under Jordanian rule Mukhtar Yusuf Ibrahim Jacir’s grandson, Nasri Suleiman Jacir, became a teacher at this school.

In the 1960s, the Jacir Palace became the Government Secondary School for boys, “Al Wataniya”, for the Bethlehem district, and the original Dar Jacir house next door was used as a laboratory for the school’s science department. Later the Palace became the Government School for Girls.

By 1980, Nasri Suleiman Jacir, who was the only Jacir still living in Bethlehem, managed to finally buy back the original home. He was able to do so by paying for it in installments over the course of his lifetime, thanks to the generosity of the owner the late Hanna Qawwas who offered him the possibility to do this. From 1980 to 1996, the house was inhabited once again by its owners, Nasri and Marguerite Jacir, until they both passed away.

In 2014, Yusuf Nasri Jacir, the grandson of Suleiman Jacir, bought his siblings’ shares of the house and became the sole owner. Yusuf decided to convert it to an art and research center to serve the Bethlehem area and the Palestinian communities in Palestine as well as overseas in the diaspora. It was his dream to be able to give back to his little town of Bethlehem, the place he was born and raised and will always love.

Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research
Al Khalil Road,Bethlehem, West Bank

T: +970 2 274 3257

By Appointment Only