Nebi Musa is a special place to end a walk across the wadis and hills surrounding the Jordan Valley. The sanctuary consists of the tomb and a mosque and a spacious complex built around. A pretty courtyard and sets of stairs lead on to expansive views at the desert surroundings and the vast Muslim cemetery outside the complex, where past pilgrims and visitors lay buried.
Whilst Christian and Jewish tradition point to Mt. Nebo east of the Jordan river as the burial site of Moses, according to Palestinian Muslim tradition, Nebi Musa is the site where his bones were ultimately put to rest. The 13th century Sultan Baibars built a mosque at the site in honor of Moses and from that point on, a long tradition of pilgrimage ensued.
The tradition grew over the centuries and was scaled up significantly during Ottoman times in the early 19thcentury when an annual pilgrimage took place from Jerusalem to Nebi Musa with several days of both feasting and prayer. Eventually, the annual pilgrimage rite turned into a broader Nebi Musa Festival that celebrated Palestinian culture and identity. Attended by people from all over Palestine in the tens of thousands, the festival continued under British, Jordanian and later Israeli rule, but was often banned for fear of its potential to cause political upheaval. At a smaller scale today, the Nebi Musa Festival continues to be held most years in the week before Orthodox Easter.