Within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem are four (unequal and vaguely defined) quarters â€“ Jewish, Moslem, Christian and Armenian, the latter also Christian.
The Christian quarter is in the north-western part of the Old City, stretching from the St. Anne church and Bethesda pools to the Jaffa Gate.
The Via Dolorosa traverses the quarter, beginning at the First Station not far from the Ecce Homo arch and ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally the site of the crucifixion and the resurrection. This is the focal point of the Christian quarter is the, shared by the Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Coptic and Assyrian churches. The Church is always crowded with pilgrims from all four corners of the world and buzzing with a tower of Babel mix of languages/
Throughout the quarter are numerous churches, monasteries and hostels. Many of the souvenir shops selling religious artifacts and the cafes and restaurants catering to the thousands of pilgrims and tourists visiting each day are staffed by the Christian residents of the quarter.
Pottery, candles, olivewood Christmas decorations, jewelry, icons, rugs, ethnic dresses and exotic spices are among the wares offered in the market. And for whatever your choice â€“ be prepared to bargain!!
At the end of the 19thÂ century the Ottoman rulers gave Kaiser Wilhelm II permission to build the only modern church in the Old City – the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, which is also the only Protestant church. There is a magnificent view of the city from the top of its bell tower. Adjoining it is the Muristan, once a hospice and now a school.
Along the Via Dolorosa and throughout the Christian quarter there are a number of less known churches. These include the churches of St. Veronica, of St. Mark, of St. John the Baptist and of St. Savior.
The Patriarchates of the Copts, the Greek Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox, the Catholics and the Armenian Catholic churches are all in the Christian quarter. As are a number of Christian institutions such as the Austrian Hospice, Casa Nova, the Franciscan pilgrims office, Christ Church and hospice and the Christian information center.
The Armenian Patriarchate, the St. James Cathedral and the Armenian seminary are all in the Armenian quarter. This, the smallest quarter is on the south-western corner of the Old City, between the Jaffa and Zion gates. There is also a museum which recounts the history of the Armenian people from their embracing of Christianity in the 4thÂ century through to the genocide committed by the Turks in the 19thÂ and 20thÂ centuries.
Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)
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