The German Colony was erected as an agricultural settlement by members of the German Temple Society between 1872 and 1910.
The aim of this group of Protestants from southern Germany was to establish a small kingdom of God with Jerusalem at its center, and the city’s German Colony was their fourth settlement in the Holy Land.
The Templars drew on the building style they were used to at home, and the beautiful, picturesque houses with their red tile roofs are reminiscent of a typical German street village (Strassendorf), with the nearby Jerusalem Khan – a former inn for caravans passing through Jerusalem – taking up duty as a beer cellar. (These were the good times…) Construction of the Colony’s first house was begun in 1872 (and completed in 1873) by a farmer named Franck, who owned a flour mill operated by a steam engine, the second of its kind in Jerusalem.
In 1878, the Templars’ headquarters and their school were transferred from Haifa to Jerusalem, and in 1883, 15 buildings stood along the tree-lined street, each surrounded by a fenced-in parcel of land with vegetables and fruit trees, and, in the early days, facilities for animal farming. Later, inhabitants added trades to agriculture and worked as builder, carpenters, gardeners, bakers and blacksmiths. In 1910, the colony had grown to 400 souls.
In the course of World War II, the British evacuated the inhabitants as enemy subjects (some of them were Nazi supporters) and the Colony became a military security zone. Subsequently, many of the Templars left the country. In 1973, the Jerusalem Municipality declared the Colony a historical preservation area and the houses continue to serve as residential buildings.
Heike Zaun-Goshen – Beyond the Wall – Chapters on Urban Jerusalem