The first right turn after entering the cosmopolitan bustle of the Christian Quarter through Jaffa Gate leads to the most enigmatic and secluded section of the Old City: the Armenian Quarter. The legacy of Armenian Christians in Jerusalem is as long as that of Armenian Christianity itself; by the time Armenia was declared a Christian state at the beginning of the fourth century CE (making it the first Christian state in history), Armenians were making regular pilgrimages to the Holy City. It was not long before many pilgrims turned to permanent settlers, and the concurrent discovery and consecration of Christian holy sites throughout Jerusalem meant that the Armenians would forever be woven into the fabric of the city's Christian life.
Today's Armenian community has been diminished by war and emigration, but between 500 and 1,000 Armenians still call the Old City home, living in the literal and figurative shadow of St. James Church, the seat of the Armenian patriarchate and center for Armenian religious life in Jerusalem. The residential areas of the quarter, as well as the church and its extensive grounds, are usually closed to tourists, but the quarter does offer an interesting – if spartan – museum of Armenian history and several shops specializing in Armenian handicrafts, including the community's famous ceramic and tile work.
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The Jerusalem Tourism Map:Print
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