Yemin Moshe

By Petal Mashraki | Published on 1/1/0001

Plan Your Visit

Location: Yemin Moshe neighborhood, Jerusalem

Open Times:  24/7. Montefiore Windmill Visitor Center is open Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 to 17:00 (19:00 in summer) and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00.

Prices: Free. Entrance to the Montefiore Windmill is also free.

Average Visit Duration: 1-2 hours.

Notes for Visitors: If arriving by car you will need to park nearby and enter the neighborhood on foot as it is mostly a pedestrian-only area.

Special Events: Although Yemin Moshe might be a sleepy quaint neighborhood, it is surrounded by beautiful parks where there are several outdoor performance venues. The parks, plazas, and open-air performance venues are often used for festivals and special events including the Chutsot Hayotser International Arts and Crafts Fair, and the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Tours: Combine a private tour of Jerusalem with a visit to Yemin Moshe. Pro Tip: There is a free tour of the Montefiore Windmill on Fridays and Saturdays that must be pre-booked on the Windmill website.

Yemin Moshe is a charming Jerusalem neighborhood reminiscent of a quaint European village. It offers cobbled lanes and stone houses draped in vines and bougainvillea, with colorful window boxes and quaint eateries. Today it is one of the gentrified, luxury residential neighborhoods overlooking the Old City. This is a haven in the busy city yet close enough to walk to from the Old City. And if you’re wondering about the name it means “the right hand of Moses” not the biblical Moses, but Moses Montefiore who was responsible for the establishment of the neighborhood.

Pro Tip: Yemin Moshe is not far from The First Station, and you could easily walk between both sites.

Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sha'ananim

In 1859, Mishkenot Sha'ananim (Dwellings of Tranquility) was built across from Mount Zion, just a few steps from the Old City. It consisted of two elongated buildings, one was a shared space that answered the needs of the community and included a hospital, two synagogues, and a bakery with a communal oven. The other building was divided into 28 tiny apartments. The neighborhood was inhabited by the destitute. 

Pro Tip: The two original long buildings still exist. One is home to the Jerusalem Music Center and the other building is used by the Jerusalem Municipality to host honored guests. Among those who have stayed here have been Jean-Paul Sartre, Marc Chagall, and John Le Carre.

Although MIshkenot Sha'ananim was built to accommodate the poor it was not enough, and soon the neighborhood needed to be extended to make room for new residents. 

History of Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem

At a time when the residents of Jerusalem lived within the Old City walls, a crowded, yet expensive place to live, Yemein Moshe was built beyond the walls as a neighborhood and was intended for the poor who could not afford to live inside the city. The year was 1894, and the first two buildings constructed were called Mishkenot Sha’ananim. The project was funded by Moses Montefiore (1835-1874), perhaps the most famous British Jew at the time. 

Yemin Moshe was a simple neighborhood with larger homes than the original two Mishkenot Shaananim structures. The homes were one-story stone houses with red brick rooftops. The community shared an oven, and they supported themselves by running a printing press, textile factory, and windmill for grinding wheat.

In 1948, the State of Israel was established and the War of Independence broke out with neighboring countries attacking on all sides. Jordanian forces took East Jerusalem, and Yemin Moshe found itself on the edge of the barbed wire fence that divided the city for 19 years. The neighborhood was abandoned as it was too dangerous to live in.

In the 1960s the Yom Kippur War saw the entire city of Jerusalem return to the hands of the Israelis. After the war, the neighborhood underwent a complete makeover, the poor were moved out and luxury properties were built. Thankfully, many of the original structures as well as the character of the historic neighborhood survived.

Points of Interest in Yemin Moshe 

The neighborhood isn’t overflowing with attractions, but it is worth visiting to enjoy the ambiance which is something unique and different from other areas of Jerusalem. The best way to explore Yemin Moshe is to simply wander along the picturesque alleyways.

Pro Tip: The neighborhood has a lot of stairs that connect the different levels of the neighborhood which is built on a slope. It is not wheelchair-friendly. Many of the alleyways are pedestrian-only with no access for cars.

Montefiore Windmill

Yemin Moshe’s most famous attraction is a beautiful stone windmill, built in 1857 three years before Mishkenot Sha’ananim was established. The windmill was built by Moses Montefiore using funds from the estate of Judah Touro. The intention was that the windmill would encourage the residents to make a living by running the mill and help them to become self-sufficient, grinding their own flour. The mill wasn’t a success because of the lack of wind in the area, and pretty soon it was abandoned. The stone windmill is perched on a hill offering breathtaking views of the city and serves as an iconic symbol of Jerusalem's past. Today the windmill houses a small museum dedicated to Montefiore, a visitor center, and a wine-tasting center.

Pro Tip: The plaza by the windmill is sometimes used for outdoor performances by the Khan Theater’s repertoire company.

Jim Angleton Corner

This quiet spot is an observation point overlooking the walls of the Old City. It is situated near the Confederation House (also in Yemin Moshe). The observation point is in memory of Jim Angleton, a former Chief of Counterintelligence of the CIA, and it stands where the barbed wire fence divided the city for 19 years.

Pro Tip: You’ll find at least three other memorial gardens around Confederation House, including the Amschel Rothschild Sitting Corner where there are benches for you to rest after climbing all the stairs in this neighborhood!

Great Sephardi Synagogue

Built in 1897 to be used by Yemin Moshe residents, it is built out of the same characteristic Jerusalem stone and has been restored. This is an active synagogue where services are held.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim

As the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City walls, Mishkenot Sha'ananim exudes historical charm. Its cobblestone streets, galleries, and quaint cafes create a picturesque setting, inviting visitors to explore and relish the unique atmosphere that defines Yemin Moshe. The buildings have now been turned into a cultural center and a music center as well as a guest house.

Pro Tip: The closest Old City gate to Yemin Moshe is Jaffa Gate so you can very easily walk from the Old City to Yemin Moshe.

Restaurants and Cafes

Yemin Moshe's culinary scene adds a flavorful touch to the neighborhood. From charming cafes serving aromatic coffee to exquisite restaurants offering a diverse range of cuisines, the dining options reflect the rich tapestry of tastes within this historic enclave.

Pro Tip: On two sides of the neighborhood there are some of Jerusalem’s best parks.