The Quarters, Jerusalem
This is the first quarter you'll pass through if you enter Jaffa Gate and make a right hand turn down the Armenian Orthodoxy Patriarchate Road.
The Armenian Quarter is an important source of pride to Armenians because the King of Armenia (kingdom of which has been long gone since the 4th century AD) was the first king to acknowledge Christianity and decree it as his nation's religion; thus they established their presence in Jerusalem immediately following that, and it's been their spiritual capital so to speak, ever since.
It's pretty insular and aside from the Armenian Tavern (see my restaurant tips) and Vic's Armenian Studio (see my shopping tips), this quarter is otherwise mostly residential.
I would say this quarter is also the spot from which you exit through Zion Gate to get to Mt. Zion (Dormition Abby, Christian Cemetery, St. Peter's Church, etc).
It's a "must-see" to visit the Muslim Quarter inside the Old Walled City. Chances are you will find yourself smack in the middle of this most vibrant of the four quarters anyways, as the majority of the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross) runs through it. Every day life is felt to the max here....it's a cacaphony of Arabic chatter, recorded calls to prayer over nearby loudspeakers, vendors calling out, colorful stalls filled with everything from narghila pipes and colorful materials to fragrant Arabic coffee and local food items. It's easy to feel a bit claustrophobic walking down the narrow streets and so often you'll find yourself jostled by Palestinian children heading to or coming from, school.
Also, if you're walking around that area on a Friday around noon, be aware that there's a major stampede of Muslim men heading toward the "Haram ash-Sharif" (where the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques are located) for mandatory afternoon prayers.
The best people-watching in the Old Walled City can be had in this very quarter....the Muslim Quarter.
Ironically, it is this area that provides the best views of the Dome of the Rock. Mostly residential, the Jewish Quarter has been pretty much reconstructed after the Israelis (re)captured Jerusalem in the Six Day War (War of 1967). It was especially pretty at night when we stayed here last December, because we arrived on the last evening of Hannukuh and all the Jewish homes had little glass boxes outside their doorways with candles burning....we'd parked our rental car right outside the Cardo area and hoofed it over to the Lutheran Guest House which is in the Jewish Quarter, so we were treated to this special glimpse of Jewish religious observation in the holiest of holy cities. It was truly beautiful.
Dominated by mostly Palestinian vendors, a stroll through the Christian quarter is a sure way to find yourself buying souvenirs from your visit to Jerusalem - relgious or otherwise! Actually, this quarter plays host to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate as well as the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (shared by the Armenians, Catholics, Greek Orthodox and the Coptics). I stayed here for several weeks the second time I visited Jerusalem in 2000, and it was a great experience. The Palestinians whom you come across in this quarter are primarily Christian, and as far as vendors and restaurants go, you'll notice a crucifix or some other Christian symbol gracing the walls. I don't know if this is an exaggeration, but a Palestinian Christian friend of mine once told me that they (Palestinian Christians) have a bit of a challenging time dealing with their Muslim brethren, especially when it comes to entering mosques. He said that he got in trouble once for venturing into the Al-Aqsa mosque one time, getting chased out by Muslim worshippers there....I don't know...maybe it's a worse crime to be Palestinian and Christian than it is to be some other ethnicity and claim Christianity....? Interesting either way....
Well...I dont think one can skip that one...
If you want or not while in the old city you'll be going through that market, (unless if you'll totally skip the Via dolorosa and everything thats connected to it) its a nice experience and sometimes pretty amusing.
Remember that when buying stuff at that market haggling is part of the culture... Dont be shy... if they wont reduce the price you can just say thanks and goodbye... and before you'll turn your back to get out of the shop they will call you back and will give you a better price.
The Hurva Synagogue is also known as Hurvat Rabbi Yehudah he-Hasid ("Ruin of Rabbi Judah the Pious"). It is a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
Traditions for a synagogue in the area date from the 2nd century. In the early 1700s, followers of Judah he-Hasid founded a synagogue at the site, but it was destroyed a few years later, in 1721. The plot lay in ruins for over 140 years and became known as the Ruin, or Hurva. In 1864, the Peru The plan to rebuild the synagogue in its original 19th century style received approval by the Israeli government in 2000.
In April of 2009 it had a view which you can see on my photos.
In ancient Roman city planning, a cardo was a north-south-oriented street in cities, military camps, and coloniae. The Cardo in the Old City of Jerusalem is a good example.
The main north-south thoroughfare, the Cardo Maximus, was originally a paved avenue approximately 22.5 meters wide (roughly the width of a six lane highway) which ran southward from the site of the Damascus gate.
You can watch my 3 min 29 sec HD Video Jerusalem Old City in the Evening out of my Youtube channel.
Souk al Qatanin is the old Cotton Market and still one of the busiest lanes in the Old City, a covered street filled with coffee shops and clothes stalls. It leads to the Temple Mount complex through this gate, which is one of the largest remaining in the area.
Mosque of Omar is located opposite the southern courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It has a 15-meter high minaret that was built before 1465 and was renovated by Ottoman sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1860).
The Russian Compound is one of the oldest districts in central Jerusalem, including a large Russian Orthodox Church and several former pilgrim hostels. Alexander’s Podvorie located in the Old City near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
You can watch my 1 min 34 sec HD Video Jerusalem Alexander's Podvorie out of my Youtube channel.
The Cathedral of St. James or Saint Jacob Armenian Cathedral is a 12th century Armenian church in the Armenian Quarter, near the quarter's entry gate. The cathedral is dedicated to Christian Saints: James the Greater (one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus) and James the Less (brother of Jesus).
To the left of the entrance are three small chapels. The first from the entrance contains the tomb of Makarios, the bishop of Jerusalem in the fourth century. The third from the entrance is the shrine where the head of St. James the Apostle is entombed. Armenians believe that he was buried here in the first century after his execution by King Herod Agrippa I.
In the chancel, beyond the fence, are two thrones. The one closest to the pier with the canopy is the symbolic throne of St. James, the brother of the Lord, and first bishop of Jerusalem, who is buried beneath the high altar.
The Jewish Quarter as you see it today blends seamlessly with its surroundings and it's hard to believe that it was almost totally levelled after the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. After this war when the Jordanians seized control of the Jewish Quarter, a wall was built right through the heart of Jerusalem and remained there for 19 years. Only after the 6 Day War of 1967 was the Quarter reclaimed and since then it's been systematically restored on the one hand and excavated on the other. The fruit of the restorations is obvious in the many synagogues and buildings devoted to religious instruction and the winding residential streets many of them with palm trees and glorious clumps of bouganvillea. The excavations have revealed many treasures and possibly the most spectacular is the section of road known as The Cardo or Cardo Maximus of Roman Jerusalem. This would have originally traversed the whole city but the restored section that's left is in the Jewish Quarter, starting just south of the David Street souq. A line of huge, stand-alone pillars are still in place and these along with the palms which rear up alongside them lend a huge air of gravitas to the whole area There are lots of shops and galleries here also especially in the upmarket shopping arcade incorporated into the structure.
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was built in the Christian Quarter in 1869.
The Church was commissioned by Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, who was given the east half of the Muristan by the Sultan during a visit to Jerusalem in 1869.
The church was built over the Church of St. Mary of the Latins, which had fallen into disrepair. An even earlier church may have stood here from the 5th century. The old cloisters, refectory, and original plan of the medieval church are preserved in the new church.
The Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, is one of the most ancient symbols of Judaism.
According to the Old Testament it was created according to God's explicit commands to Moses, and formed an important part of the Tabernacle, the "portable temple" used by Moses during the wanderings of the People of Israel in the Sinai desert on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Several generations later it was incorporated into the Temple built by King Solomon on Mt Moriah in Jerusalem. Its lamps were lit by the purest olive oil.
The Menorah used in the Second Temple was plundered by the Roman Emperor Titus when he conquered Jerusalem from the Jewish rebels, brought to Rome and paraded around the city during Titus' victory parade (see relief on Titus' Arch in Rome!).
An exact life-size replica of the Menorah was constructed from 24-karat gold by scholars in Jerusalem, and it now stands in a large glass box in the Jewish Quarter, overlooking the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. Its value is estimated as more than 4 million dollars!
Walking through the Muslim Quarter is like walking through a giant swap meet. There are clothes hanging above your head and pans and pans of Baklava, wooden things, bronze things, candles and lots and lots of vendors that call out to you to buy whatever they have, but be careful, they will grab you by the arm to pull you into the shops.
Besides the Dome of the Rock in the Muslim Quarter is the Mosque of Omar. Walking around the Mosque of Omar, you can see beatiful buildings such as Bab es-Silsileh (The Gate of the Chain). Five times a day, a muezzin calls the faithful from the minaret to prayer. Between the staircases from the Mosque of Omar and the Al Aqsa Mosque you can see the El-Kas fountain. Right near the western staircase leads up to the Mosque of Omar, there is splendid Sebil Qait Bey fountain, that was named after the Mamluk sultan who built it. According to muslim faith this fountain stands on the site of Holy of Holies of the Herodian Temple. The Al-Aqsa mosque is the second biggest and most beautiful mosque in Jerusalem. The name "Al-Aqsa" means farthest, because it is the farthest point to which Mohammed went.
The mosque was built by caliph Walid I in 715. During the time the mosque was completely destroyed by the earthquakes and was re-built by the Templars in 1099. The columns supporting the interior arches were donated by Mussolini between 1938 - 1943.
At the same time King Farouk of Egypt donated the ceiling.