The spiritual heart of the city of Jerusalem is undeniably the Old City, but the city's nervous system centers around Zion Square (Kikar Tzion), the axis round which the bustling economic and cultural life of west Jerusalem spins. Abutted by Jaffa Road, downtown Jerusalem's main artery, and at the root of both the Ben Yehuda and Yoel Salomon pedestrian malls, Zion Square is packed at all hours with a broad cross-section of Jerusalem life: bearded mystics, heavily armed police, declaiming self-styled holy men, jubilant Hassidim, sullen teenagers, bright-eyed tour groups and street musicians.
The square, which dates back to the construction of its adjoining streets in the era of the British Mandate, has played host to more than its share of dramatic events throughout the history of Israel: the burning of Golda Meir in effigy by the radical Israeli Black Panther Party in the 1970s; the fiercest of the right wing protests against the 2005 disengagement from Gaza; and, grimly, countless terrorist attacks during the intifadas.
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