The Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter – with a population of barely 3,000 – encapsulates millennia of Jewish history in a tiny area.

The Jewish presence here is persistent … tenacious. Despite repeated exiles, Jews have returned to Jerusalem against all odds time and again.

The Jewish Quarter bears testimony to multiple destructions and – always – hope and rebirth.

6th century Madaba map of Jerusalem

Here, you will find religious sites, memorials to battles lost, signs of devastation – and bustling new life, avant-garde architecture atop baths built by Herod, and modern art sold in shops built by Romans and Crusaders.

Here, all of history coalesces into the present moment.

Compared to the rest of the Old City, this neighborhood looks surprisingly new and clean. This is largely “thanks” to the Jordanians, who immediately after expelling the last Jewish residents in 1948, reveled in completely destroying the neighborhood. The destruction was so thorough that little was left that could be restored when the Jews returned in 1967.

Undeterred, they set about rebuilding upon the ruins and the Jewish Quarter is once again a vibrant, lively place.

The main single attraction for many people is the Western Wall, the only remaining part of the Jerusalem temple, and Judaism’s holiest site.

Western Wall Jerusalem

But that's not all there is to see – not by far. There are over a dozen synagogues and two dozen museums nestled in this tiny area. For our favorite, check out our list of 10 best old city sites , most of which are concentrated in this part of the Old City.

And a great way to get a sense of the area as a whole is with the free mp3 tour.

ophel archaeological gardens at the foot of Jerusalem temple mount

Another popular area is the area off Tiferet Yisrael Street, which locals call the Rova square. (“The Rova” is what Jerusalemites call the Jewish Quarter.) There are cafes and some arts and crafts shop here, as well as a small grocery shop. It’s a lovely place to take a break, have a drink and relax before continuing on.

On one side of the square is the Churva Synagogue. The synagogue was destroyed (not for the first time) by the Jordanians in 1948. For a long time authorities could not agree whether or not to restore the building. In the interim, they built an arch over the ruins that recalled the original building’s impressive dome, while at the same time bearing testimony to what was destroyed. If your guide book is not the latest edition, you may still see photographs of this thin white arch rising into the blue sky.

No longer. The building is finally rebuilt in all its glory, yet another sign of Jerusalem's indomitable spirit.

Despite everything, life goes on.

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