The Post hostel’s closest neighbors, just cross Jaffa road and you’ll find yourself at the busy heart of Jerusalem municipality. Some of the offices are located in new and modern buildings and some in old ones, they were built at the end of the 19th century and had different purposes: bank, zoology laboratory, hotel and a bagel bakery. The space in the middle of the city hall buildings is called Safra square. It hosts most of the official ceremonies and events in the city. Some of the open spaces between the buildings contains contemporary art works. The area uses today many people as a passage between the new city and the old one. Behind the city hall a few buildings, called the Russian compound, are hidden. Some of them still preserve their original purpose and some changed it during the last decades.
Most of the historical buildings were destroyed in
order to make place to the new residence.
Walking through the alleys, the old façade are visible.
Hotel Feil was the first privet hotel in Jerusalem.
It had very few rooms and a lot of times people found
themselves camping outside, in the garden, and using
the dining room. In the beginning of the 20th century
the hotel was transformed to a privet house.
At the ground floor the owner opened a bagel bakery
and till today it is well known as the bagelmacher’s
The building facing the tram station was built in the
late 19th century. It used as a residential apartments
and the ground floor as a commercial center.
After 1948 the zoology department of the Hebrew University moved here till Mount Scopus
returned to be the official seat of the University. From this laboratory only the name remained.
A very dominant building is the historical Barkly Bank Bauhaus building.
Its round façade still bear its scars from the wars, bullet holes are evident.
The initials BB on the windows stands for Barkly Bank.
In the main building, one floor below the offices hides the entire city of Jerusalem.
The model of the city started as an exercise of an architecture deportment.
It gives the opportunity to check new projects and their influence on the surrounding
and natural areas to preserve and protect. The city hall offers guided tours in the focus of interest.
At the entrance to the main square, in front of the model
of the city hall complex, a copy of the Bunting Clover Leaf
Map decorates the main wall.
It is a Mappa Mundi, a map of the world in Latin.
It describes the world as known in the 16th century with
the city of Jerusalem at its heart.
Three continents surround the Holy city are Asia,
Europe and Africa. Some countries and cities
mark the geography of each and every continent.
Try to look for the familiar names of the main countries
and cities. Some other modern Art works are scattered
between the buildings of the Municipality.
Behind the City Hall tram station,
in the middle of the garden, hides a giant metal face.
It is a modern statue that was donated by the American Jewish artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Another artistic project is the cement cushions of the Israeli artist Smadar Carmeli.
You are more than welcome to sit and relax but please don’t jump on them.
The Russian compound was the first Christian complex built
outside the walls of the city, back in 1860.
It contained two hotels designed especially for Russian pilgrims,
one for man and the other for woman.
A new hospital served not only the visitors but also the Christian
Orthodox citizens of the city. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is
still decorated with the original frescos. The buildings changed
their purposes during the 20th century.
For example, the women pilgrims’ hotel became the British prison
and Sergei house the court of justice. During the ’70 Russia
claimed the buildings back or instead a legal purchase transaction.
Israel paid Russia 3 and a half million liras (before the Shekel).
Israel paid half of the sum in Jaffa oranges and half in money.
One of the buildings is still under debate.
Today most of the buildings serves the Israeli police,
one of them is a detention center and another is the court of peace.
The Russian church is still an active one. It is open to public only during the morning hours.
The woman’s hostel host, today, the Museum of the Underground Prisoners.
In front of the façade of the Russian church close to the detention house lays a pillar
from an ancient period. It is Og’s finger, the Amorite King of the Bashan mentioned in the bible,
book of Numbers. It is a huge pillar that during that was broken in before it was completed.
It was appointed or to the Temple of King Herod or to the main Nea Church,
built during the byzantine period and destroyed a couple of centuries later.