The Old City

The municipal boundaries, defined in 1967, stretch from the Jerusalem Airport in the north to a point almost reaching Bethlehem in the south and from the ridge of Mt. Scopus and the Mount of Olives in the east to Mt. Herzl, 'En Kerem, and the Hadassah Medical Centre of Hebrew University in the west.

The Old City, which is believed to have been continuously inhabited for almost 5,000 years, forms a walled quadrilateral about 3,000 feet (900 metres) long on each side. It is dominated by the raised platform of the Temple Mount (Hebrew Har ha-Bayt), the site of the First and Second Temples, known to Islam as al-Haram ash-Sharif ("The Noble Holy Place"). The rest of the area within the walls--divided by the ancient street layout into Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Armenian quarters--is a typical Oriental city, with its mosques and its medieval vaulted triple bazaar in the centre and a labyrinth of smaller suqs, or bazaars, along David Street, which leads from Jaffa Gate and the Citadel toward the Temple Mount. The Old City is distinguished by its many churches and by the ancient synagogues and study houses of the Jewish Quarter.

The first neighbourhoods outside the Old City walls, built from the 1860s onward, were scattered chiefly along the main roads leading into the city. The earliest of the Jewish communities were paralleled by non-Jewish expansion prompted by Christian religious or nationalistic motivation and included establishment of the Russian Compound, the German Colony, and the American Colony. Some early communities, such as Mishkenot Sha'anannim and Yemin Moshe, with its famous windmill landmark, have been reconstructed and partially settled or turned into cultural centres.

Others include the Bukharan Quarter; Me'a She'GIii, founded by Orthodox Jews from eastern and central Europe, with its scores of small synagogues and Talmudic study houses; and Mahane Yehuda, with its fruit and vegetable market, inhabited mainly by Jews of Oriental origin. Residential quarters established between World Wars I and II include Rehavya in the centre, Talpiyyot in the south, and Qiryat Moshe and Bet ha-Kerem in the west. The old campus of the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus, which formed for 20 years (1948-67) an Israeli enclave in the Jordanian-dominated sector, was entirely rebuilt after the Six-Day War.

Some Arab districts, such as Talbieh (modern Qomemiyyut) and Katamon (Gonen), abandoned during the fighting of 1947-48, became Jewish neighbourhoods; and thousands of houses were built for new immigrants in districts to the west, newly incorporated into the city. Arab neighbourhoods outside the Old City include the American Colony, ash-Shaykh Jarrah, Wadi al-Joz, and Bayt Hanina in the north and villages such as Silwan and Bayt Safafa in the south. Other important communities include Gillo, Newe Ya'aqov, and Ramot Allon.

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