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Jewish Quarter – Audio Walking Tour in the Old City of Jerusalem

A Tour of the in the Jewish quarter of the old city Time of tour: 2 to 4 hours

During the reign of the kings of Judah in Jerusalem the city grew considerably and its neighborhoods included the western hill – the present-day location of Mt. Zion and the Jewish Quarter. During the Second Temple period the “upper city” of Jerusalem was where the city’s dignitaries lived. They built splendid homes and the remains of these structures fill us with wonder, even now, when we observe them two thousand years later.

The destruction of the Temple, the exile and the Roman and Byzantine rule brought with them a period of crisis and times when there were no Jews living in Jerusalem. But with the Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE the Jews returned to Jerusalem. The Crusader conquests in 1099 dealt a serious blow to the Jewish community in the city, and it was restored only at the end of the 12th century, with the return of the Muslim rulers to Jerusalem. At first Jews lived on Mt. Zion, but beginning with the 14th century the Jews began to concentrate in the area that constitutes the present Jewish Quarter.

For the 400 years of Ottoman rule in Jerusalem there was a Jewish community living inside the walls of the Old City. The community, which we call the “Old Yishuv,” was not a single, cohesive unit. Until the middle of the 19th century the community consisted mainly of Sephardic Jews, descendants of the exiles from Spain and others. Beginning with the mid-18th century Ashkenazi Jews begin to settle in the city, but not for extended periods. There were a few individuals who came to Israel gradually, or groups of Hassidim and Talmud scholars. In 1721 Ashkenazi settlement in Jerusalem ceased, and was only renewed 90 years later. In the 19th century Jerusalem’s Jewish population grew significantly, and towards the end of the century Jews began an “exodus” from the walled city. This chapter of history ends with the fall of the Jewish Quarter to the Jordanians in the War of Independence. Following the Six Day War, with the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, archaeological excavations were undertaken in the city. These excavations revealed fascinating discoveries, evidence of Jewish life in various historical periods. Afterwards, the homes of the Jewish Quarter were refurbished and Jews are living here once again.

The Jewish Quarter tour begins across Zion’s gate and ends the Western Wall plaza. Highlights include: the four Sephardic synagogues, Batei Mahseh square, the Hurva synagogue, the Cardo and the Western Wall.

Twenty Shekel Israeli coin showing the Tower of David

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