A short account of the Mahane Yehuda Market, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide
The Mahane Yehuda Market is the main market of Western/Jewish Jerusalem. It is a very busy place, with tens of shops and stands, selling mostly food, but many other things, as well. Besides fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, spices, meats and fish, one can find shops for kitchen utensils, clothing, designers’ shops, and quite a few restaurants.
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The market started spontaneously at the end of the 19th century. The new Jewish neighborhoods near Jaffa Road needed food supplies that Arab farmers from the nearby villages were eager to supply. The products were laid on the ground in an open field, and sold to Jewish housewives. Because the market was so successful, it became necessary to turn it into a more serviceable one. It wasn’t until the time of the British, decades later, that attempts were made to reorganize the market.
At the end of the 1920’s, streets were built and shops were constructed and in the 1940’s, the market was transformed into a large rectangle made up of four streets, with seven small streets running between them. This is the layout that exists today.
The market keeps the kosher food religious laws very strictly, since a significant number of the shoppers are Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox. The market is closed on the Sabbath; this is why on Thursday afternoons, and especially on Fridays, the market is extremely crowded.
When it is not too crowded , one can have a lovely experience walking through Mahane Yehuda, observing the dynamics of shopping, the smells, tastes (cheeses, halva, tahini, melons etc.), and eat in one of the wonderful restaurants.
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