Israel / Travel

Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter

Hidden away behind high walls and enormous wooden doors, the Armenian Quarter is one of the less visited neighborhoods in Jerusalem (and therefore one that I like more). They still use those doors too – the gates to this city within a city are closed early each evening:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

Of course, apparently having the most cats of any other neighborhood in Jerusalem doesn’t hurt its popularity with me either:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

The Armenians were not the first people to occupy this site, but they have been here for a long time.

Supposedly, the Armenian Quarter was the site of King Herod’s fortress from 35 to 25 BC. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the area was occupied by a Roman Legion.

But, the Armenians showed up shortly after…

Armenia was the first nation to embrace Christianity when their king converted in AD 303 and they established themselves in Jerusalem sometime in the following century. When the Kingdom of Armenia disappeared at the end of the 4th century, Jerusalem was then adopted as their spiritual capital. They have had an uninterrupted presence here ever since:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

The Armenian presence in Jerusalem was historically a purely religious one, but a wave of secular Armenians swept in early last century in the period leading up to and following the Turkish genocide of 1915.

The community today numbers about 1500:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

The community is still very insular, having its own schools, library, seminary and residential quarters:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

The Armenian Quarter is renowned for the quality of its ceramics and one can find colorful shops hosting an array of ceramics (and usually other interesting items) for sale:

jerusalem-armenian-quarter

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