Category Archives: Jerusalem

Jerusalem Landmarks, Montefiore to Calatrava

A landmark is an object or feature of a landscape or place that is easily seen and recognized at a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location.

As a photographer one of the things that I often do is look at a scene and choose a feature that is interesting, that stands out in some way. The city of Jerusalem has any number of landmarks, the bell tower of the International YMCA, the old train station or the Rockefeller museum. Leave a comment on what is a Jerusalem landmark for you?

As you approach Jaffa gate, one of the popular entries to the Old City, you’ll see a tower and minaret peering above the walls. Here is a photo of the landmark, a little less usual in that it is covered with a light dusting of snow.

Tower of David

Another striking landmark is the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock. The building goes back to 691 CE Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik and is considered the earliest example of Islamic architecture. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) the mosaics on the exterior of the Dome of the Rock were replaced with ceramic tiles. By 1919 when some tiles needed replacement the British invited three Armenian families who worked in ceramics, Ohannessian, Balian and Karakashian, from the city of Kutahya, Turkey to Jerusalem but the project fell through due to lack of funds (an Armenian told me that the Muslims would not let the Armenian Christians work on the shrine). In 1955, an extensive program of renovation was begun by the Jordanian government, with funds supplied by Arab countries and Turkey. The work included replacement of large numbers of tiles which had become dislodged by heavy rain. In 1965, as part of this restoration, the dome was covered with a gold-colored durable anodized aluminum bronze alloy made in Italy, that replaced the gray colored lead covering. In 1993, the dome was refurbished with 80 kilograms of gold when King Hussein of Jordan sold one of his houses in London and donated $8.2 million to fund it.

Jerusalem Dome of Rock

In the 1850s, several institutions including the Russian Compound, the Bishop Gobat School, and the Schneller Orphanage marked the beginning of permanent settlement outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls. The public institutions were followed by the development of two philanthropically supported Jewish neighborhoods, Mishkenot Sha’ananim and Mahane Israel.

MMMishkenot Sha’ananim was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1860 as an almshouse, paid for by the estate of a wealthy Jew from New Orleans, Judah Touro. Nearby is another well-known landmark, Montefiore’s windmill. In 1857 Montefiore imported a windmill from Canterbury, England and erected it on this plot of land to provide Jerusalem’s poor Jews with an inexpensive source of flour.

Montefiore windmill

Many years have passed and now Jerusalem has a light rail system that connects the suburbs with the center. As the light rail crosses the main entrance at the west of the city it passes over an eye-catching suspension bridge built by Spanish architect, sculptor and civil engineer Santiago Calatrava that is probably the newest Jerusalem landmark. Called the Bridge of Strings, the 2600 ton curving bridge, only 340 meters long, will be supported by 66 cables from a single angular pylon 118 meters high.

Calatrava Bridge of Strings

This is how Calatrava described his plans for the bridge.

“Along the pedestrian walkway is a band of pastel blue light, like the blue of the Israeli flag and also the tallit (Jewish prayer shawl),” Calatrava says. “When you see the bridge from far away, it will appear like a modern obelisk. And at the top we would like to put a bronze plate, something that will reflect in the sun like a golden dome.”

Matthaus Frank and German Colony

Just recently I received an email from Australia commenting on my German Colony tour.

I am a descendant of Matthaus Frank, he is my great-grandfather, and I was hoping you could send me, via email, information on him as I have very little knowledge about him to pass on to my daughters. Thank you in advance, Kind regards, Petra Frank, Clayton, Australia.

It’s always nice to hear from someone who is engaging with my site. It’s an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the neighborhood where I live and know very well. So I did some research and found some old photographs in architect David Kroyanker’s excellent book “Jerusalem – the German Colony and Emeq Refaim Street” (the book has only been published in Hebrew). I also went out and took some of my own photos of the German Colony today and the Templer cemetery. I learned that there were two Matthaus Franks, father and son and that the son wrote about his life in Jerusalem. For those into genealogy there is enough information in the cemetery to start a family tree.

Matthaus Frank

Matthaus Frank (1846-1923)

The German Colony in Jerusalem was founded when a small group of German Templers arrived in 1868. At first, they rented housing in the Old City and in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls a few years earlier. From 1867 it became possible for foreigners to purchase land, on condition that their European government had signed an agreement with the Ottoman Turkish authorities which Prussia, representing Germany, did in 1869. Consequently, in 1872 young Matthaus Frank (1846-1923) purchased a large plot of land suitable for farming from the Arabs of Beit Safafa for his father-in-law, Nikolai Schmidt. Schmidt travelled to the Holy Land in 1874 with a group including his wife Katharina but died on his way to Jerusalem. The German Templers bought the land from Frank and divided it into 1 dunam building lots – bounded by Emek Refaim Street and Derekh Bet Lehem. This became Jerusalem’s German Colony and in 1878 the spiritual center of the movement with a school, sport club and  Gemeindehaus, the community center and church on Sunday. Two historic events took place shortly thereafter, the completion of the railway that joined Jerusalem to the port at Jaffa in 1892 – today the station has been renovated and is a popular meeting place of food and culture and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and Augusta Victoria’s official visit in 1898 – the three churches that were initiated then stand to this day as part of Jerusalem’s skyline.

This aquarelle painting by Gustav Bauernfeind (born Germany 1848 – died in Jerusalem, 1904 and buried in the Templer cemetery) and the photograph from about 1890 (train station is already built) document what the German Colony looked like. The painting was presented to the Kaiser on his visit. Bauernfeind was a German painter, illustrator and architect of Jewish origin, considered to be one of the most notable German Orientalist painters.

German Colony, aquarelle by Gustav Bauernfeind

German Colony, aquarelle by Gustav Bauernfeind

German Colony, photo from 1890

German Colony, photo from 1890

Frank entrance Frank kept 5 dunams for himself and on it he built his house in April 1873. It was the first building to be completed, the home of the miller Matthaus and Gertrude Frank, today #6 Emek Refaim Street. You can see the date on the keystone of the arch above the door and the name EBEN EZER carved in the stone lintel, mentioned in Samuel 7: 11 when God helped the Israelites against the Philistines.

Frank installed the first steam-driven flour mill and ran a bakery. Up until then there were only windmills for grinding wheat. Two exist to this day, Montefiore’s windmill built in 1867 beside Mishkenot Sha’ananim and a Greek owned windmill on Ramban Street, later the office of Erich Mendelsohn who fled Nazi Germany in 1934 and split his time as a successful architect between London and Jerusalem.

A fellow German Templer, Theodore Faust, describes the Frank house in his handwritten memoirs.

A large garden with fruit trees, vegetables and flowers, and the  ‘proud’ two-storey house, like a fortress or castle, that’s what we thought as children, with a steam-driven mill, stable for donkeys and other buildings, with the spacious living quarters above, there was the kindergarten of the Colony for many years. Behind the house was a large vineyard, and the property was six times as large as a regular property. In addition to the usual underground  water cisterns there were two open pools, one large and one small where sometimes the children were allowed to swim and so perhaps this was the first private swimming pool in Jerusalem… In later years, the Frank house was a popular meeting place.

Mattheus Frank house

In 1910, Mattheus Frank the son (1877-1927) decided to rent the house to a Templer family, the Kirchners, who lived there until 1917. Frank and his wife Luise moved the family to a new property (Neue Mühle) on Derekh Bet Lehem where they lived and ran the bakery (Franks Bäckerei). Only the two large arches of the ground floor façade exist today, as the entrance to underground parking for a housing development.

early 20th century photo of courtyard of Frank Bakery behind the family residence, Arab wagoners and carts that delivered bread

Courtyard of Frank Bakery behind the family residence, Arab wagoners and carts that delivered bread

Matthaus and Luise Frank house

Matthaus and Luise Frank house

The Templer cemetery is the final resting place for these pioneers and this is where our tour of the German Colony ends.

Templer cemetery

Mattheus & Luise Frank

Prince of Wales Pine Tree

I was visiting with friend and fellow tour guide, Tom Powers, in Bethlehem and we were talking about our interest in photography and what you can learn by comparing photographs taken 100 years ago or more with the same scene today. I mentioned Francis Bedford’s photographs from Edward, Prince of Wales visit to this area in 1862 and my guiding for the BBC to Mar Saba and my blog post https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/mar-saba-and-judean-desert-revisited/. This reminded Tom of a photograph from the Matson collection, image #00776, titled “Prince of Wales Tree near Palestine Museum” (link to the image online at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/matpc/00700/00776v.jpg).

Prince of Wales Pine Tree

Tom did the research and wrote the captions for several hundred high-resolution photographs taken between 1898 and the 1940s in the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. The complete set of photographs, some 4,000 images has been produced as two DVDs by Todd Bolen – http://www.lifeintheholyland.com/49_matson_american_colony_8_volumes.htm
Here is the writeup for the Prince of Wales Tree:

The area pictured lies north of the northeast corner of the Old City. The view is to the southeast, with the Russian Ascension Tower on the Mount of Olives visible on the skyline (left). The Rockefeller Museum buildings, if they are visible at all (through the trees), would be in an early stage of construction.
A late 19th century observer describes this area as “a large field on the north-east side of the town, which extends from the town-ditch [rock-hewn Crusader moat at the Old City’s NE corner] to the splendid pine tree near an oil-press worked by the Moslems. This region is known by the general name of Kerm esh Sheikh [the Sheikh’s Vineyard]”
— Charles Clermont-Ganneau in Archaeological Researches (1899), Vol. 1, p. 248
The “Sheikh” was Muhammad al-Khalili a prominent member of an aristocratic Muslim family from Hebron who settled in Jerusalem in the 17th century and owned this plot of ground. In antiquity it was a cemetery, whose many documented burials stretch back to the Hellenistic period, and in Crusader times it served first as the staging-ground for Godfrey de Bouillon’s successful assault on the nearby city wall on July 15th, 1099, and later as a farm called by the Crusaders “Belveer.”
Muhammad al-Khalili, who served for a time as Mufti of Jerusalem, built a two-story summer residence here in 1711, the structure seen at right, which came to have the name Qasr el-Sheikh. It had an olive press on the ground floor and living quarters above and was one of the first buildings ever erected outside the Turkish city walls. Such buildings were especially useful for guarding the agricultural fields that covered the area, and the property of “Karem esh-Sheikh” was planted with olive and fig trees, date palms, and of course grapevines.
As for the tree, it is said that Muhammad al-Khalili brought the pine seedling from Hebron, wrapped in his head-covering, and planted it here. When it was grown, the venerable pine seems to have become a well-known local landmark, and over the years numerous dignitaries, including members of the British royal family, enjoyed its shade. Among them was Edward, Prince of Wales (later to be crowned King Edward VII) who visited Jerusalem in 1862 and made his encampment here, hence the tree’s name. In 1865 Prince Arthur likewise camped at the site.
In the late 19th century the Muslim Rashidiyah School was built on part of Karm el-Sheikh and it remains in use today as part of Jerusalem’s public school system. At the beginning of the 20th century the Arab neighborhood of Bab a-Sahairah, named after the nearby city gate (Herod’s Gate), grew up in the surrounding area. Then in 1919 the Mandatory government selected the site for the construction of an archaeological museum, although it was only in 1930 that the eight-acre tract, Karm el-Sheikh, was purchased from the al-Khalili family and the cornerstone was laid. Construction was completed in 1935, and the museum officially opened to the public in 1938.
At the time the Rockefeller Museum was coming into existence, the old “Prince of Wales Tree” still stood here, just to the west of the main museum site. In fact, the original architectural plan called for a rear (western) courtyard surrounded by cloisters, which would communicate between the historic villa structure, Qasr el-Sheikh, and the main museum building. And the old pine tree, at the suggestion of Rockefeller himself, was to have pride of place at the center of this court, as “an ‘organic’ counterpart to the imposing tower” at the front of the building. This meant, in concrete terms, that the central axis of the entire museum complex was aligned on the tree!
Rockefeller museum model
In the end, the envisioned rear courtyard was never realized, nevertheless the venerable tree — through all the vicissitudes of British, international, Jordanian and then Israeli control – stood as a silent witness behind the museum. In its later years it was actually propped up by a special concrete buttress, however by 1988 the so-called Prince of Wales Tree – then close to 300 years old – had finally died and had to be cut down. The great stump is still visible behind the museum. As for the historic villa, Qasr el-Sheikh, much of it remains intact; restored and modernized, it today houses the Restoration Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Rockefeller museum and pine tree

Sources:
  1. A. Mertens, “Who was a Christian in the Holy Land? (Edward VII)”, an on-line resource at www.christusrex.org
  2. West Meets East: The Story of the Rockefeller Museum (2006), by Fawzi Ibrahim; excerpt online at http://www.imj.org.il/rockefeller/eng/index.html

Christian Pilgrim Itinerary (9 days)

If you are interested in experiencing the Holy Land as a Christian pilgrim I am happy to work with you to create a personalized tour. Here is a sample 9 day itinerary with visits to religious and archaeological sites with time for prayer and reflection. We will visit the trinity of cities: Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and their churches: Annunciation, Nativity and Holy Sepulcher. Click links for more information. I will be sharing more details on Nazareth and Bethlehem in upcoming blog posts.

Day 1 pickup at the airport and drive to Nazareth

Day 2  Nazareth

  • Mary’s Well and Greek Orthodox church
  • Synagogue church
  • Church of the Annunciation
  • St Joseph’s Church
  • Mary of Nazareth International Center
  • Mount Precipice
  • Transfiguration on Mount Tabor
  • dinner in Tiberias overlooking Sea of Galilee

Day 3  Around Sea of Galilee

  • Korazim
  • Jordan river
  • Tabgha: Church of Multiplication; Peter’s Primacy
  • lunch: St. Peter’s fish
  • Capernaum
  • Domus Galilaeae
  • Jesus boat
  • dinner in Rosh Pina with a view

Day 4 Galilee

drive to Jerusalem; Shabbat dinner with my family

Day 5  Bethlehem

Day 6  Jerusalem Old City

  • Mount Zion
    • Dormition Abbey
    • Room of Last Supper
  • Peter in Gallicantu – model of Jerusalem in Byzantine period
  • Gethsemane
  • Church of Agony
  • Tomb of Mary

Day 7

Day 8  Judean desert

Day 9

Israel Roundup

The Spring 2013 edition of ARTIFAXArtifax cover magazine is available – my photo graces the cover and the lead article, Herod’s Magnificent Obsessions, is my description of the Herod exhibit at the Israel Museum, with my photographs.

Dead Sea and Mount Everest

Two pieces of stone from the area of Israel’s Dead Sea, formed into a two-foot sculpture by Israeli artist Jojo Ohayon, has been placed in the Sagarmatha National Park of Nepal, at the southern part of Mt. Everest. Israel is planning to erect a sculpture built out of rock from Mount Everest and place it near the Dead Sea next month.

A few years ago I made a similar connection with an exhibit of my photographs from the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, in Kathmandu, Nepal in the shadow of Mount Everest, the highest place on earth.  https://israeltours.wordpress.com/photography/photo-exhibit/

Petroglyphs

I just found out about an open colloquium, Mount Sinai: Mount Karkom, May 12-13, 2013 in Mizpe Ramon, honoring the pioneers of Israeli desert archeology and an off-road Jeep trip to Mount Karkom – sounds incredible. Unfortunately, when I went to register, registration was full.

I’ve posted some photos from a hike I did near Mount Arkov in the Negev where we saw a lot of petroglyphs similar to those at Mount Karkom. https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/photo-of-the-week-tumulus-negev/

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens has developed an online course, Flora of the Holy Land, that features more than 100 plants, providing information, stunning photographs, video clips, maps and more. The course tells the fascinating role played by plants in the Bible, about the environmental wisdom of the ancient texts and the contribution that plants of the area have made to human settlement and civilization. http://www.en.botanic.co.il/Pages/Show/122

Work is continuing on First Station, Jerusalem’s new meeting place for food and culture, at the original railway station built in 1892, terminus of the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway. It is scheduled to open May 14. As of today the visitors center where you can get information, book a Segway or electric bicycle tour and buy souvenirs and the Re:bar concession are open.

In a July 2012 article in Ha’aretz, Yaakov Kahlon, Senior Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem shares his vision about the future of Jerusalem.

... hot-air balloon, so you can go up and see the city from above. The Ottoman-era train station, along with a large multiplex cinema that is under construction in nearby Abu Tor, are meant to provide an entertainment nexus that will be open on Shabbat. It will include a Ferris wheel and a skate park, and from there a promenade with a bicycle lane that will connect directly to the Jerusalem Theater.

So far, all we’ve seen is First Station.  http://www.firststation.co.il/en/

Talking about ferris wheels, here is a double photo of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock with ferris wheel in the background for use with stereoscopic 3D glasses – check out other photos (mostly from the Library of Congress, American Colony Eric Matson collection) at http://www.israeldailypicture.com.

Ferris Wheel Jerusalem

In his book, God’s Sacred Tongue: Hebrew & the American Imagination, author Shalom Goldman explains:

At the 1904 World’s Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, there was a massive model of Jerusalem’s Old City. It sprawled over 10 acres of the fairgrounds and included grand models of the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  As Israeli scholar Rechav Rubin remarked: ‘the most astonishing fact about the enterprise is that several hundred people, Moslems, Jews, and Christians, were brought from Jerusalem to St. Louis.  There they lived and worked within the model, dressed in their colorful costumes… and had to entertain and guide the visitors through its streets and sites.’

 

Crusader Jerusalem

A reader asked me to post something about the Crusaders in Jerusalem. I am happy to and also to lead tours focussing on the Crusader period.

Raymond of Aguilers, who wrote a chronicle of the First Crusade (1096–1099), relates that on the morning of June 7, 1099, the Crusaders reached the summit of Nebi Samuel, from which they saw Jerusalem for the first time. The elated Crusaders fell to the ground and wept with joy, calling it Mons Gaudi, mount of joy. The same day they reached the walls of Jerusalem.

Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph as Crusader

With insufficient troops and supplies and rumor of a Fatimid advance, the Crusaders could not besiege the city for long but had to organize a direct assault.  After about a month they were able to get skilled builders and wood by cannibalizing Genoan ships that had arrived at Jaffa port for siege towers. This enabled the Crusaders to breach the walls in 3 places on July 15th. The Crusaders massacred most of the Muslims and Jews and evicted the remainder leaving Jerusalem almost uninhabited until Christians could be encouraged to settle there. On 22 July, a council was held in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that chose Godfrey as the princeps for the newly created Kingdom of Jerusalem which became an important Christian center.

Crusader sites in Jerusalem

In 1160 the Crusaders added a glacis to the tower at the Citadel and dug a moat around it.

The Roman Cardo was subdivided into 3 covered markets: Vegetable or Spice market, Market of Malcuisinat and Covered market – this property was donated to the convent at Santa Anna. Nearby along David St. today, was the poultry market selling eggs, milk, cheese.

The Crusaders built a church in Kidron valley that contained the Tomb to the VIrgin Mary  and Queen Melisende was buried there. Beside it was Gethsemane and a Barluzzi church in 1920s was built on earlier Byzantine and Crusader ruins.

The remains of the Church of Mary of Latina can be seen in part of the German Lutheran Church of Redeemer that was dedicated in 1898 during the German Kaiser’s visit.

Capitals outside German Lutheran churchClose by is the Church of Holy Sepulcher, rebuilt by the Crusaders and dedicated in 1149. The sculpted marble panels on lintels over the two main doors, in Romanesque style, are now in the Rockefeller museum.

Ascension of Jesus Crusader mosaicOn the ceiling of the Catholic Chapel of the Nailing to the Cross (11th station) is a 12th-century medallion of the Ascension of Jesus — the only surviving Crusader mosaic in the building. Small geometric-shaped pieces of marble inlaid in the floor is a style known as Cosmati or Cosmatesque a traditional technique from the Crusader period though it was done when the chapel was renovated in 1937 by Barluzzi.

There are Hospitaler sites in the Muristan and German knights in the Jewish quarter, remains of a hospice, hospital and church, St. Mary of Germans.

Up on the Haram el-Sharif, the Knights Templar, used the Al Dome of AscensionAqsa mosque, called Templum Solomonis by the Crusaders, and the underground arches of Solomon’s stables. The Dome of the Rock functioned as a church, Templum Domini. A short distance to the northwest, is the Dome of the Ascension, which served as its baptistery. The Dome of the Chain to the east was a Christian chapel to St. James.

If you have the chance, visit the Temple Mount Sifting Project to try some hands-on archaeology and take the opportunity to see artifacts like arrowheads, coins and relics from the Crusader period.

At Bethesda Pools is the ruins of a Crusader chapel, Mary of Bethesda, built on the ruins of a much larger Byzantine church from the 5th century named for St. Mary (Church of the Probatica) and the Church of Santa Anna, one of the most exquisite examples of Crusader architecture in the country.

Santa AnnaOn Mount Zion, the German Dormition Abbey was built on the ruins of the Crusader church of St Mary of Mount Zion which includes an upstairs room which can be visited today, the Coenaculum or Room of the Last Supper.

The Crusaders built many buildings which affected the city’s image, adding a Christian flavor to the 450 year old Muslim city and many of these changes can still be seen in the Old City today.

Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel Overlooking the ancient route from Beit Horon to Jerusalem (today highway <436>) is a tree-covered, limestone mountain (885 meters high) that gets its name from the Hebrew prophet Samuel who according to Judaism, Christianity and Islam is buried there. Another tradition, supported by archaeological evidence, is that this site is Mizpeh, where Samuel anointed Saul, the first King of Israel and where King Solomon made a thousand burnt offerings at the high-place of Gibeon – the biblical city of Gibeon is only 1.5 km north of the site, today the Palestinian village of el-Jib, behind the separation wall. Excavations, still ongoing, have uncovered the remains of settlements from both the First Temple (7th century BCE) and Second Temple (Hasmonean) periods.

Nebi Samuel, Second Temple

According to the Biblical text I Samuel 25:1 it says that “Samuel died and all Israel gathered and lamented him and buried him in his home(town) in Ramah”. If this site is Mizpeh, then there would be a problem. In the Byzantine period (6th century), Christian tradition said that the prophet’s bones were relocated here and a monastery was built at the site to honor Samuel. In 1099, during the First Crusade, the Crusaders saw Jerusalem for the first time from here and named the mountain, Mons Gaudi (Mountain of Joy). There is still a great view of Jerusalem but of course a much different view than what the Crusaders saw. As part of the fortress that they built there in the 12th century, was a Romanesque style church over the burial cave and a hostel for Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. When the Crusaders were defeated by the Arabs under Salah a-Din in 1187 the fortifications were destroyed. In the 14th century the Mamelukes converted the church to a mosque. The building and minaret we see today is neither Mameluke nor Ottoman (though the lovely inscription over the door is) but rebuilt by the British after WWI – in the heavy fighting between the Turks and British and aerial bombardment by the British for the strategic hill damaged the building. Jewish armies fought here, from forces led by Judah the Maccabi against the Seleucid-Greeks in 165 BCE to the Harel Brigade who failed to capture the mountain during the War of Independence (1948) but were successful in the Six-Day War (1967).

Preparation of moat

On the western side you can see a section of the moat that was never completed, the large blocks of limestone stand detached ready to be quarried. The path continues past a small Muslim cemetery through an orchard of old olive and fig trees to a spring, named for Hannah, Samuel’s mother, that flows out of a cave in the bedrock.

Hannah's Spring