We have been staying in Nahlaot a neighborhood in Jerusalem that was established at the end of the 19th century. Prior to that everyone lived inside the old city of Jerusalem. Now in between Nahlaot and the old city an entire modern city has grown up and people say the crane is the national bird of Israel. The old city is divided into quarters (though uneven ones). The muslim quarter has 25,000 residents, the Christian quarter has approximately 5000 residents, the Armenian quarter has approximately 1000 residents, and the Jewish quarter has about 3000 residents. The city has 12 gates though not all are open and functioning (more on this in another posting).
This is the Jaffa Gate, the most well trafficked of all the gates in and out of the city.
This view shows you how diverse the visitors through this gate are. Among the individuals are a man waiting for Muslim prayers, an Israeli soldier, orthodox residents, and many tourists.
Just inside the gate if you look up there is an inscription carved into the lintel declaring the greatness of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538.
Now to how signs give you such a historical perspective: on the top another carved inscription and below the British road sign first in English and then in Arabic identifying the Jaffa gate. Below that is a sign in Arabic first identifying the gate, then below that in English. In 1967 when Israel captured the old city they added the Hebrew on top of the Arabic/English.
After passing through the Jaffa Gate on the way to the Jewish quarter you pass through the Armenian quarter which is walled within the walls of the old city. Unless you are Armenian you can’t enter this section.
Intersection signs: Ararat Street (Armenian)- Mount Ararat is where Noah’s ark was supposed to have landed. The other sign is Ohr Chaim (Light of Life) Street leading to the Jewish quarter. Also notice the multiple layers of stone, older closer to the bottom, newer above.
This alley leads to the more residential part of the Jewish quarter, a section I had never been to before.
Up to 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel there was a small continuous Jewish community inside the old city though they were at great risk and had to surrender and leave when the old city was taken by the Jordanians. You can see a rifle that is in the window left in place from that time. Until 1967 Jews did not have access to their holiest site, the Western Wall.
A boys elementary school inside the Jewish quarter where the students attend 364 days a year! The only day off is Tisha B’Av (coming up next week), a commemoration of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem of which the Western Wall is a portion.
Across the courtyard is another school, a more modern orthodox school with the regular 6 day a week school week and a month off in the summer.
This carved verse from Zechariah (Chapter 8) says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
This elderly gentleman (aged in his 90s) and his wife in her 60s have lived in the old city since the 1970s.