Forget about the Nachalat Shiva’a, Western Wall or Machne Yehuda Market. Check out some of Jerusalem’s most intriguing and bizarre spots. These quirky places truly capture the complex and diverse character of this city.
Austrian Hospice interior Courtesy Shchaf Rodberg
The Austrian Hospice
In the middle of the bustling Muslim Quarter in the old city of Jerusalem lies the Austrian Hospice. Built in 1857 as an Austro-Hungarian pilgrim’s hospice, the place currently operates as a pleasant guest house with simple rooms, a beautiful garden and a staff mainly composed of nuns. Even if you don’t plan to spend the night, it’s worth stopping by for the best viewpoint in the Old City or to try the authentic Austrian strudel. The doors are always locked – ring the bell to get inside.
Not far from the Austrian Hospice stands the St. Helena Coptic Church. It is an Armenian church that was built in the 12th century on the lower floor of the Holy Sepulchre Church. The church itself is worth a visit for its plain yet uncommon design and unique atmosphere, but the real surprise is hidden from most visitor’s eyes. Ask for direction one of the monks in the area and he will guide you to the northern portion, there you will find a stairway which leads to an ancient pit with exceptional acoustics – try out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for the greatest impact.
Although there are more than 130,000 Ethiopians live in Israel, most Israelis are not that familiar with Ethiopian cuisine. Taspei, a small Ethiopian restaurant near the Machne Yehuda market, is a charming and fascinating place to visit. Most of the crowd are Ethiopian men that drink ‘Goldstar’ Israeli beer while eating Ethiopian delights.The place is dimly light both during the day and night, a fact that contributes to the unique atmosphere.
Sergey Yard is located In the heart of Jerusalem, near the Russian Compound. After a long ownership fight, Israel agreed to the Russian government’s demand to regain control over the compound. Built by the Tsar’s son in the 19th century for the benefit of Russian pilgrims, it is considered as one of the architectural pearls of Jerusalem. In the yard you can find two decorated stone towers, a beautiful garden, a golden fish pool and a European eclectic style building.
Barbur Gallery is located in the narrow, winding alleys of Nachlaot neighborhood; the absolute best neighborhood to get lost in. The place is an independent, non-profit gallery of contemporary artists. The exhibitions mainly focus on social matters from a critical point of view and change on a monthly base. There is always something unusual to see here ranging from avant-garde performances, installations and lectures to poetry slam events and documentary nights. Although tiny in size, it is one of the most influential galleries in the city. Shirley Baumer