Districts Northwest and Southwest of the Old City, Jerusalem
Outside the northwest corner of the Old City, 300m/330yds from the Jaffa Gate, is Zahal Square (Kikar Zahal). From here HaZanhanim Street runs northeast towards the Damascus Gate, passing the New Gate, opposite which is the Hospice of Notre Dame de France (1877), and Jaffa (Yafo) Road runs northwest to Bar Kochba Square and Zion Square, central features of the new town of Jerusalem.
From Bar Kochba Square in Jerusalem a street goes off on the right into the Russian Compound, with the green-domed Russian Orthodox Cathedral. This part of the city grew up around 1860 as a large walled complex for the accommodation of the Russian pilgrims who came to Jerusalem in considerable numbers, particularly at Easter. On the northeast side of the complex were the Russian consulate and a hospice for women; to the southwest were a hospital, the mission house, with apartments for the archimandrite, the priests and well-to-do pilgrims, and, beyond the Cathedral, a large hospice for men. The buildings are now occupied by various government institutions (police headquarters, law courts, etc.).In ancient times there was a quarry here, and a relic of it is still to be seen in the form of a column fully 12m/40ft long which broke while it was being quarried and was left in situ, still embedded in the natural rock; it can be seen in a hollow in the ground opposite the entrance to the Cathedral. The column was presumably destined either for the colonnades of the Herodian Temple or - as a number of capitals found here suggest - for a building of the Theodosian period (second half of fourth century).
From a side gate of the Russian Compound in Jerusalem a street runs northwest into Prophets Street (Rehov HaNevi'im), beyond which is the Mea Shearim quarter. Turning left into Prophets Street, we take the first street on the right, Abyssinian Street (Rehov HaHabbashim), named after the Abyssinian Monastery founded and enlarged by Emperors John (1872-89) and Menelik (1889-1913). The church of the monastery is a round building with a green dome. The reliefs of lions above the doorway recall the style of Lion of Judah borne by the Abyssinian dynasty which traced its origins back to the Queen of Sheba; it was believed that the Queen of Sheba was also Queen of Abyssinia and that when she visited Solomon in Jerusalem he granted her a coat of arms with the lion of Judah. The church contains numbers of Abyssinian icons.
Ben Yehuda Street
1km/0.75mile along Jaffa Road in the direction of the Old City we come into Jerusalem's main shopping and commercial center. Particularly attractive is Ben Yehuda Street, which during the eighties, along with some of the side streets, was made a pedestrian zone, with numerous pavement cafes.
To the north of the Abyssinian Monastery in Jerusalem is the Mea Shearim district, where the second Jewish settlement outside the Old City was established in 1875. At the entrances to this quarter are notices asking visitors to respect the customs of the strictly orthodox Jews who live here. This applies particularly to the Sabbath, but at all times visitors should avoid wearing "improper dress" (e.g. shorts, short-sleeved blouses and dresses) and taking photographs of the inhabitants. The name Mea Shearim ("a hundred gates") refers to Isaac's "hundredfold" harvest (Genesis 26,12). The ultra-orthodox Jews can be recognized by their old East European dress, their black clothes, felt hats (streimel) and side-curls (peiyot). They speak mostly Yiddish, since they regard Hebrew as a sacred language to be used only in religious services. An extreme group (Neturei Karta) refuses to recognize the state of Israel because it was not established by the Messiah and regard themselves as a ghetto of true orthodoxy within the Jewish state. In this quarter there are numerous synagogues, ritual baths (mikvot), Talmudic schools and Torah scribes. The shops, particularly round the market square, sell religious articles, silverware, etc.
Going north along Yezekiel Street in Jerusalem, we turn left into HaBuharim Street in the Bokharan Quarter, established in 1892 by Jews from Bokhara, in which picturesque old costumes are still worn, particularly on feast-days.
Tombs of the Sanhedrin
From Prophet Samuel Street (Rehov Shemuel HaNavi) in Jerusalem, we take a road on the right which leads to the Tombs of the Sanhedrin, rock-cut tombs of the first century A.D. The triangular pediment over the entrance and the triangle over the doorway have delicate acanthus and pomegranate ornament. The principal chamber is two-storied, with steps leading down into a third (basement) story. Recesses in the walls once held sarcophagi. It is believed that this handsome complex was the place of burial for members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme council.
From Prophet Samuel Street in Jerusalem, turn right along Bar Ilan Street and its continuation Jeremiah Street (Rehov Yirmiyahu). Shortly before reaching the Romema district we turn right into a street which leads to the Biblical Zoo, with a collection of birds, animals and reptiles mentioned in the Bible.The zoo's visitor center is in the shape of Noah's Ark.
Going south from the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and turning right into Sarei Yisrael Street, we return to Jaffa Road at the memorial commemorating General Allenby's entry into Jerusalem in 1917.
Ben Yehuda House
Adjoining the monastery is the house of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who played a leading part in the creation of the modern Hebrew language; there is a commemorative plaque on the house.
At the Eilon Tower Hotel in Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda Street runs into King George (HaMelekh George) Street, along the right-hand side of which are a number of important modern buildings, beginning with the Yeshurun Synagogue.
Beyond the Yeshurun Synagogue in Jerusalem is the Ratisbonne Monastery, founded in 1874 by Alfred Ratisbonne, which is occupied by a French order, the Pères de Sion.
To the east of King George Street in Jerusalem is the Independence Park (Gan HaAtsmaut). In this large park is the Lion's Cave, in which legend has it that a pious lion guarded the remains of martyrs. At the east end of the park, in the grounds of an old Islamic cemetery, is the Mamilla Pool, a cistern which formed part of the water supply system of ancient Jerusalem.
The Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem also houses other Zionist institutions. The Jewish Agency, established by Theodor Herzl in 1897, occupies the central block, and in the side wings are the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet), which was originally set up to acquire land for Jewish settlement and is now concerned with bringing land into cultivation, and the United Jewish Agencies. Here too are kept the Zionist archives and the Golden Books recording donations for land purchase.
On the south side of the Great Synagogue in Jeruslaem is the Chief Rabbinate (Hekhal Shelomo), the highest religious authority in the country. It is the seat of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis, who determine questions of Jewish law. On either side of the entrance to the building, which was donated by Sir Isaac Wolfson, are the scales of justice, with the Hebrew inscription "And they shall judge the people with just judgment" (Deuteronomy 16,18). On the facade is a representation of a menorah (seven-branched candlestick). Within the Rabbinate are a synagogue with an Ark of the Covenant from Padua, a museum of Jewish sacred and popular art bearing the name of the donor and a library.
Tomb of Jason
A short distance beyond the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem is Zarfat Square (Kikar Zarfat). Turning right from here into Ramban Street and in some 300m/330yds turning left along Ibn Ezra Street and its continuation Alfasi Street, we come (at No. 10) to the Tomb of Jason, a Hellenistic monument discovered during excavation work in 1956. The name of the occupant appears in an inscription. The tomb, which is dated to the second century B.C., has a façade of dressed stone and is topped by a pyramid. The entrance, divided into two by a squat column, leads into a passage flanked by tomb chambers with recesses for burials in the walls.
In King David (David HaMelekh) Street in Jerusalem is the YMCA Building (1928), with a 46m/150ft high tower which is a popular viewpoint. On the floor of the entrance lobby is a reproduction of the sixth century mosaic map in a church at Madaba (Jordan).
King David Hotel
Opposite the YMCA in Jerusalem is the King David Hotel, which was the headquarters of the British forces during the Second World War and after the war. One wing of the building was blown up by a Jewish underground organization in 1946. It was reopened as a hotel in 1948.
Herod's Family Tomb
In a side street to the east of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is Herod's Family Tomb. Herod I built a monumental tomb for himself on the Herodeion near Bethlehem and a separate tomb for his family above the Hinnom valley in which his wife Mariamne and other victims of his violent temper and persecution mania were buried. To the left of the entrance the foundations of a pyramid have been excavated. A flight of steps leads down to a rock-cut forecourt and the entrance passage, which could be closed by a round stone (still visible). Beyond this are a square chamber and behind it a smaller one, off which open three tomb chambers. Until the Second World War the sarcophagi were still in their original places, but when the British authorities used the tomb as an air raid shelter they were moved to the Monastery of Constantine, near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Montefiore Windmill Museum
Along King David Street in Jerusalem, is the Montefiore Windmill, which contains a small museum on the life of the British philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885). In the middle of the 19th century Montefiore bought the area round the windmill and founded the first Jewish settlement outside the Old City (Mishkenot Sha'ananim). At the end of the century the area to the north, Yemin Moshe, was also built up; it is now an artists' quarter.
Liberty Bell Park
Diagonally opposite the Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem is Liberty Bell Park, a beautiful park laid out to mark the bicentennial of the United States, with a replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
St Andrew's Church
St Andrew's Church was built in remeberance of Scottish soldiers who fought in World War I.St Andrew's Church (Church of Scotland; 1927). Beyond this is the Khan, an old Turkish caravanserai which has been converted into a theater.
To the south of the Khan is a railroad station, the terminus of the line from Jerusalem to Jericho constructed in 1891.
German Templar Colony
From the street intersection at St Andrew's Church in Jerusalem, Bethlehem Road runs south. Opposite the railroad station Emeq Refaim Street branches off it on the right and runs through the territory of the German Templar Colony founded in 1873 by the German Protestant community of the Temple (no connection with the order of the Knights Templar). The community house with its apse and small bell-cote and the little houses set in gardens still give the area its particular stamp. At the far end of the Colony, immediately adjoining the American Cemetery, is the Templar Cemetery laid out in 1878. The members of the colony were evacuated by the British authorities during the Second World War.
On a hill a few hundred yards east is the district of Abu Tor. From this strategic point Titus launched his assault on Jerusalem in A.D. 70. From the hills there are fine views of the Hinnom valley, Mount Zion and the Old City.
Map - Districts Northwest and Southwest of the Old City
Districts Northwest and Southwest of the Old City Pictures
Map of Jerusalem Attractions