Jerusalem´s Jewish population had grown considerably, and thus, construction of the first Jewish neighborhoods outside the Old City began – which were to form the heart of today´s modern Jerusalem. Since these residences had to do without the protection of the Old City´s thick walls, they were often built as fortress-like entities, to fend off the average friendly neighborhood marauder.
These typical and often picturesque neighborhoods still retain some of their original charme and provide an interesting inside into Jerusalem´s way of life. So, let us introduce some of the most prominent among them….
Mishkenot Sha’ananim was Jerusalem’s very first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City’s walls. Following a 1855 building permit obtained from Sultan Abdul Hamid by Sir Moses Montefiori, it was erected on an area of 40,000 square meters, which also contains the adjacent Yemin Moshe quarter (built in 1892). Sir Moses Montefiori (1784-1885) was a famous Jewish philantropist from England, and a total of six Jerusalem neighborhoods could be established with his help.
Mishkenot Sha’ananim was completed in 1860 and basically consists of two rows of appartments on the slope above Sultan’s Pools, offering a beautiful view of Mount Zion and the Old City.
Planned as a hospital for the poor of Jerusalem, the upper building originally included two synagogues, workshops and a bakery. In 1970, it was renovated by the Jerusalem Foundation and today, it houses the Music Center holding music workshops with internationally renowned musicians.
The lower building consisted of 28 two-room appartments, which have been redesigned into10 larger units, converting the building into a guest house where Jerusalem’s municipality accommodates its guests, among them famous musicians, writers and artists.
The Yemin Moshe Neighborhood
Named after Sir Moses Montefiore, an English philanthropist (1784-1885) who devoted himself to Jewish welfare, the Yemin Moshe quarter is one of Jerusalem’s most beautiful and picturesque neighborhoods, and among the first Jewish residential areas erected outside the Old City’s walls.
During his seven visits to Palestine, Montefiore greatly contributed to the establishment of educational and medical institutions for the Jewish community here. During his last visit, he set up a fund for the construction of six neighborhoods in Jerusalem, which were all named after him.Yemin Moshe, built in 1892, comprised 137 houses, as well as synagogues and communal ovens. By the 1920s, its population had grown to 900.
Situated across the Hinnom Valley west of the Old City, Yemin Moshe offers a wonderful view of the Old City. During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, it became a frontier defense post, and, after the Six-Day War in 1967, the neighborhood was restored by the East Jerusalem Development Company.
Today, most of its inhabitants are artists and other private individuals who purchased the houses with the proviso to maintain the quarter’s original character. Thus, the visitor to the neighborhood can reach its cobble stone streets and alleys only by foot.
Yemin Moshe’s landmark is undoubtedly its famous Montefiore windmill and the small building next to it, which houses a replica of the carriage Montefiore used during his travels in Palestine – the original carriage was destroyed by arson in 1987. The windmill was erected in 1857 by Montefiori and began operating in 1860, to provide work and to reduce the price of flour outside the Old City.
With its parts imported from England, the windmill was the most modern among the seven mills working in Jerusalem at the time. Today, the windmill contains a collection of photographs and documents illustrating Montefiore’s life, and is open to the public.