A short account of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide

The Jewish Quarter is a section in the Old City, measuring 34 acres (including the Western Wall plaza), with a population of approximately 4,000 people. The Quarter of today looks very different from that of the past. A large part of it was destroyed in 1948 when the Jordanian army conquered it as they took the entire Old City.

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Some history

After the Jewish city was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, Jews were banned from the city until the 7th century. Under the rule of Islam, Jews returned, but were banned again during the Crusades. When the Muslims returned, Jews settled first on Mt. Zion, outside of the wall. However, in the 14th century, they started moving into the area of what today is known as the Jewish Quarter, and rented homes from Muslims.

As in the entire country, the Jewish Quarter had its good times and bad, in accordance with the quality of the ruling regime. Under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, especially in the 17th-18th centuries, life was difficult for the Jews. The 19th century brought some improvement when European (Ashkenazi) Jews, who enjoyed special rights, moved in and settled in the Jewish Quarter. Synagogues were built, and the population grew to 10,000. When it became too crowded, people dared to leave the security of the wall, and built new neighborhoods. The Jewish Quarter emptied gradually, and when the War of Independence began in 1947-8, there were about 1,700 Jews living there.

Returning, in 1967, it was decided to rebuild the Jewish Quarter, but in a modern way, while at the same time trying to restore and maintain the old buildings that remained. The Jews that settled in the Jewish Quarter were both religious and secular, but the high demand for apartments by religious people resulted in high prices, that mostly American Jews could afford. As a result, the secular Jews sold their homes and left. Today, the Jewish Quarter is inhabited almost entirely by Orthodox Jews.

What can we see in the Quarter?

  • The old and new alleys are very attractive places in which to stroll.

  • A visit to the Hurva Ashkenazi Synagogue and the complex of the Sephardic synagogues.

  • A visit to the Herodian Quarter and Burnt House to see the glory of the city during the time of the Second Temple.

  • A visit the Jewish Quarter Museum to learn about the heroic fight and surrender in 1948.
  • A visit the Western Wall lookout and the Wall.

  • Stroll and shop in the Cardo.

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