Ever since the Old City of Jerusalem took on its current dimensions during the glory days of the Ottoman Empire, it has been divided into four quarters, one each for the most venerable residents of the city: a quarter for the Jews; a quarter for the Christians; a quarter for the Armenian Orthodox; and a quarter for the Moslems. The Jewish Quarter is the second-smallest of the four quarters, and simultaneously its oldest and newest; while this section of Jerusalem has been home to a Jewish population since antiquity, save for the comparatively brief period in which Jews were expelled from the city by Roman authorities, the quarter's architecture dates almost entirely to the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Jewish Quarter was home to lively and crowded Jewish community during the Ottoman Era comprising both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews living in relative harmony with the rest of the city's residents, but the quarter came under heavy bombardment by Jordanian forces during the 1948 War of Independence. Defended only by a handful of mostly teenage Palmach fighters, cut off from supply lines and populated largely by pious and elderly Jews, the quarter quickly fell. The Jewish population was evacuated, and the Jordanian army razed almost every building in the quarter to the ground, including all but one of its dozens of synagogues. The recapturing of the Old City by Israelis in 1967 and the decimated state of the Jewish Quarter provided an unprecedented archaeological opportunity; before reconstruction commenced, archaeologists carved deep into the earth and excavated incredible remnants of Jerusalem's ancient history.
Excavated sites now open to visitors include the Cardo (an ancient Roman-Byzanite road), the Burnt House, the Broad Wall, the Israelite Tower and more. The quarter is now a residential area again, populated largely by religious Jews, many of whom hail from English-speaking countries abroad. The quarter is also home to dozens of Jewish religious schools, many of which cater to foreign students, which does much to lend the area its young, Anglophone character. Key sites include the Hurva Synagogue, the Four Sephardic Synagogues, the Cardo, the One Last Day Museum, the Western Wall and the Burnt House.
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The Jerusalem Tourism Map:Print
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