Museums, markets, caves and live shows: An historic plaza is reborn in Jerusalem

Don’t you simply adore it when a plan comes collectively?

While establishing ’s Highway 1 in 1997, the powers-that-be added an ornamental aqueduct and plaza to the world on the high of — simply west of ’s . Sometime afterwards, peddlers who had blocked the streets of the Old City have been concentrated, below strict advertising tips, within the plaza formally often known as Pearls’ Lane.

Over the years the positioning deteriorated, with undesirable components becoming a member of the reliable peddlers and rubbish masking each empty house. It was a spot you averted when strolling in East Jerusalem.

In 2015 Benny Sasi, director of the East Jerusalem Development Company (PAMI), toured the partitions with assistant director Israel Yefet. They took have a look at Pearls’ lane, and determined that the positioning deserved an entire overhaul. Together with an Arab-speaking staffer, Yefet started asking folks strolling to and from Damascus Gate their concepts for a completely completely different plaza.

Damascus Gate and Palms’ Plaza in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

With funds made accessible by the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, Yefet oversaw an entire makeover, from new pumps for the aqueduct to wheelchair accessibility for passersby. And in June of this yr, the positioning formally reopened. Dubbed Palms’ Plaza by PAMI, the as soon as filthy, uncared for and even harmful park now boasts gardens, walkways, a flowing aqueduct and ever -changing coloured fountains which are lit up at night time. Best of all, residents (and guests, as nicely) do their greatest to maintain the positioning meticulously clear.

Palms’ Plaza is just one of a number of thrilling websites alongside Sultan Suleiman Street, a byway that runs alongside the northern wall and reaches to its northeastern nook. Lined by bedrock on each side, the road was paved over a Crusader-era moat through the ’s rule in Palestine and named for its final and longest-reigning Turkish sultan.

Suleiman avenue and Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Suleiman had a number of unofficial titles. To the Europeans who have been in awe of the sultan’s navy prowess – he personally led armies that conquered a lot of Europe earlier than being halted on the battle of Vienna in 1529 – he was identified each as and Suleiman the Great. His Turkish topics revered him extra for his far-reaching legislative reforms, and labelled him the Lawmaker.

Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (photograph credit score: Wikimedia Commons, public area)

What he did for Jerusalem, nonetheless, ought to have granted him the title of Suleiman the Contractor, for he utterly overhauled the aqueduct that introduced water into town, repaired the outdated markets and constructed new bazaars, cleaned out the reservoirs, and restored the Dome of the Rock. But most significantly, he undertook the huge activity of rebuilding, beautifying and fortifying Jerusalem’s partitions, towers and gates.

Damascus Gate and a disappearing canine

One of them, Damascus Gate, is each probably the most spectacular, and probably the most decorative, of the Old City’s seven open gates. Located instantly east of Palms’ Plaza, it options broad steps and a sq. that’s consistently stuffed with folks.

But though it’s practically half a century outdated, Damascus Gate is basically only a newcomer in comparison with the historic aspect gate and Roman Plaza positioned under.

Damascus Gate at night time. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

In 132 C.E., Jews everywhere in the Land of Israel rebelled towards Roman rule. Known because the Bar Kochba Revolt, it was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian three years later. To rejoice, Hadrian constructed a free-standing victory arch consisting of an impressive center portal, with similar, much less ostentatious entrances to town on both aspect. One of the smaller entrances stays virtually intact, and is discovered under and to the left of Damascus Gate.

A pillar topped by a statue of Emperor Hadrian stood on a plaza simply inside the traditional entrance. Distances to completely different elements of the nation have been measured from this pillar, which seems along with the plaza on the well-known sixth century Madaba map found in Jordan. The pillar is the supply of the Arabic identify for Damascus Gate – Bab el Amud – Gate of the Pillar.

The Madaba Map depicting historic Jerusalem is a part of a ground mosaic within the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. (Public area through Wikipedia)

Today the plaza is named the Roman Square. Excavated in 1982, it options a little bit museum devoted to the historical past of Damascus Gate and run by PAMI. The unique stone ground remains to be there, together with maps, explanations, and a wide range of Roman period antiquities. Over the previous many years it has been opened and closed to guests a number of occasions. At the second solely teams that make preparations prematurely can go to the positioning.

An intact Roman-era entrance to the Old City, positioned under the Damascus Gate. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

One of town’s most fun vacationer websites is positioned proper subsequent to Damascus Gate. But it might by no means have come to mild have been it not for Dr. James Turner Barclay, a minister of the Scottsville Disciples of Christ in Virginia. Dr. Barclay arrived in Jerusalem in 1851 together with his spouse and three youngsters, hell-bent on changing town’s Jews and Muslims to Christianity. But he discovered that Muslims had been warned of a loss of life penalty upon conversion. And any Jews who took up the cross confronted whole ostracism by their neighborhood.

With time to spare, Barclay and his canine took lengthy walks outdoors town partitions. And it was on considered one of these strolls alongside Suleiman Street, in 1854, that his canine disappeared.

Eventually, Barclay made out a faint bark. Following the sound, he found a really small opening within the wall that was ordinarily hidden by lots of rubbish however had been uncovered that yr throughout unusually robust rainfall.

In order to not alert the Turkish authorities, Barclay waited till darkish after which, with two buddies, ventured into an unlimited cavern over 9,00zero sq. meters in measurement. Created by pure forces, it had served as a quarry for hundreds of years and, fairly presumably, was even utilized by the laborers who constructed Solomon’s Temple three millennia in the past.

Zedekiah Cave. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Deep contained in the cave, there’s a barely flowing spring. Legend has it that its waters are the tears shed by King Zedekiah as Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

Not solely have Zedekiah’s cave and its quarries been stunningly restored for guests, however today the cave hosts musical occasions a few times every month. Hundreds of artistically positioned candles create a fascinating environment for the live shows that, along with the cave’s acoustics, supply a magical sound and atmosphere.

A live performance is held at night time in Zedekiah’s Cave. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

Down close to the tip of the road, the white limestone partitions of the John D. Rockefeller Archeological Museum shine brightly within the Jerusalem solar. Inaugurated in 1938, with a surprising six-sided roof, the museum options hundreds of artifacts excavated within the area through the British Mandate in Palestine (1920-1948).

Rockefeller Museum was designed by British architect Austen St. Barbe Harrison. A scholar of Byzantine and Islamic structure, Harrison did a superb job of mixing jap and western design, incorporating lengthy halls with arched openings, Armenian tiles, beautiful sculptures and reflecting swimming pools.

Burj al-Laqlaq or, in English, Stork’s Tower, stands on the northeastern nook of the Old City partitions. As Israel is a significant migratory path for birds it’s possible that the tower bought its identify from the storks who used to relaxation right here throughout their migrations. Among the decorations on the tower is a completely incongruous Star of David, virtually actually taken from one other web site.

Before 1948, when the Old City partitions marked the Jordanian border, hip hostess Kati Antonious would serve fancy moonlit dinners on the stone rooftop of the huge sq. tower. Kati was married to George, non-public secretary to a very powerful Muslim cleric in Jerusalem. The couple lived a lavish life-style, and their salon was universally envied. Indeed, everybody who was anybody on the worldwide scene, from Arab sheiks to politicians and poets visited their house – and continued to take action even after Kati misplaced her husband in 1942.

The Rockefeller Museum. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

From 1948-1967, the entire space was an unpleasant no-man’s land stuffed with barbed wire. But following the Six-Day War, when the 2 elements of Jerusalem have been reunited, Jews and Arabs haggled collectively every Friday on the Sheep Market subsequent to Stork’s Tower. All week lengthy they met on the espresso retailers and hummus stands throughout from Damascus Gate. Indeed, we ourselves have been regulars on the crowded watermelon cubicles in summer season.

For a protracted, very long time, all this intermingling got here to a standstill. With the opening of the brand new plaza, nonetheless, and ornamental lights in entrance of companies which have, once more, begun to develop, there may be hope that these halcyon days of peace and prosperity will return.

Zedekiah’s cave is open Saturday to Thursday, 9:00-17:00. Tickets are NIS 18 for adults and NIS 10 for youngsters and grownup seniors. It shouldn’t be wheelchair accessible and might be troublesome for folks utilizing walkers.

Groups enthusiastic about visiting the Roman Square ought to see the PAMI web site: The phone quantity is 972 2 6277550.

The Rockefeller Museum is open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00-15:00, and Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00. Entrance is free however there may be parking solely on Saturdays. It shouldn’t be wheelchair accessible. Phone: 972 2 628-2251.

Aviva Bar-Am is the writer of seven English-language guides to Israel. Shmuel Bar-Am is a licensed tour information who offers non-public, personalized excursions in Israel for people, households and small teams. All rights reserved.

Original article

Author: skvaller

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