Jerusalem: A Walk Through Christian History

St. Mark's Church

The apse of St. Mark’s Syriac Church, a small and very old church in Jerusalem’s Old City

Recently, I have been preparing my next Jerusalem: Meet Jerusalem walking tour, which will focus on Christian Jerusalem for Non-Christians. In the process I have come to explore and discover many of Jerusalem’s churches. Obviously, Jerusalem is a very holy city to Christianity, and there are innumerable churches here, many of them within the approximately one square kilometer surrounded by the Old City walls.

But as I began to explore more, and uncovered some of the lesser known churches here, I became endlessly fascinated by the variety of Christian sects. There are tens of different denominations, split into a number of larger branches of Christianity, many of which are fairly unknown to most people — Christians and non-Christians alike! And of those many sects, tons of them have churches in Jerusalem, including a number of those less known denominations.

I began to organize them all for myself, grouping them into related branches and placing them in the sequence of their various splits from each other. By looking at them this way, I could see the very development of Christianity itself, reflected in the distinctive churches in my city. I soon realized that walking through Jerusalem’s Old City is like a walk through a living museum of Christian history.

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Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem: Rehavia

International Style building in Rehavia, now a branch of Bank Leumi

The house of Dr. Paul Bonem, built in the International style by Leopold Krakauer in 1935

My first two Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem walking tours focused on the early expansion of Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. Thus, I focused first on the first three neighborhoods built outside the walls in the mid 1800s. Then we moved on to the collection of micro-neighborhoods known as Nahalaot, a step towards the New City’s solidification overall.

The third tour in the series focuses on Rehavia, a neighborhood right smack in the heart of Jerusalem. In many ways, Rehavia epitomizes Jerusalem’s modernization. Built in the 1920s and 1930s, Rehavia was planned as a Garden Neighborhood, a reaction to urbanization that was first created in Europe. From its origins and still until today, Rehavia is a neighborhood populated by leaders in politics, culture and academia.

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A Photographic Tour of Tel Aviv

Pagoda House with convex mirror

A view of Tel Aviv’s famous “Pagoda House”

I find niche tours to be interesting, and it is for that reason that I offer a few specialty tours of my own. For example, being a big foodie, and knowing many of the unique food-related sites in this country, I love giving culinary tours. But while I have been taking photos virtually my whole life, and have even been paid for this work a bit, I would not say that I am an expert in the field of photography. I have more knowledge and skill than many, but not nearly as much as a true professional.

Thus, while I’d heard of people offering photography tours before, I never really offered one of my own. I’m sure I could do a decent job, but some things are better left to others. Thus, when I heard about Rinat Halon‘s photography tour in Tel Aviv, I decided to join her to see what it was all about.

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Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem: Nahalaot

Nahalaot Street, Jerusalem

Nahalaot, Jerusalem

This coming Friday, July 20, I will be leading the next in my continuing series of Jerusalem walking tours — Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem. Following logically from my prior tour of the first three Jewish neighborhoods built outside the walls of the Old City (Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Machane Yisrael and Nachalat Shiva), I am now giving a tour of one of the more unique neighborhoods in Jerusalem: Nahalaot. Nahalot finds it origins just a few years after those earliest neighborhoods, and expands on the settlement patterns those first three neighborhoods established.

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New Walking Tour Series: Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem

An early drawing of Mishkenot Shaananim, Jerusalem, Israel.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first neighborhood built outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, in a 19th Century engraving (late 1860s?)

For some time now I have wanted to apply my knowledge as a licensed tour guide in Israel to help my friends and acquaintances learn more about their country. Obviously, the bulk of my work will be with incoming tourists, but most Israeli residents and citizens love to explore their own country almost as much as foreign, visiting tourists. So one of the things I am beginning to do is run a series of short walking tours in different neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the city I live in and love.

I am entitling the series “Jerusalem, Meet Jerusalem” because it is largely designed to help Jerusalemites better get to know the city they live in. But of course these Jerusalem walking tours are also open to tourists and Israelis from other cities!

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