Jenin is a city located on the edge of a level plain known to the locals as Marj Ibn Amer and mentioned in the Bible as Jezreel Valley or the Plain of Esdraelon. Modern Jenin is a picturesque town surrounded by olive and almond groves. Its fertile surroundings were a perfect place to settle as early as the Canaanite times, when it was called En Gannim meaning ‘the spring of gardens.’ The town is also mentioned in many historical writings including the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Roman records.
Jenin played an important role in the past as the city on the crossroads between the sea and the northern and eastern regions of the country. The historical Via Maris route passed through this area, as well as other internal routes connecting the mountains to the coast. Local tradition states that Jenin or Ginaea, as it was known in the Roman times, was crossed by Christ on a number of occasions. A church was built there during the 6th century AD. Its remains have been uncovered near the present day Grand Mosque.
During the Crusader period, Jenin was a small but important village. In 1187, Jenin was captured by Salah Ad-Din. Later, in the 13th century, it become an important town because the Mamluks, fearing Crusader invasions, destroyed the coastal towns and fortified several inland cities including Jenin. The Mamluk prince Tajar Al Dawadar built a caravanserai, a sabil (spring), and several public baths here.