/ / The Armenian quarter

The Armenian quarter

The Armenian quarter is the smallest, quiet and deserted from the four quarters of the Old city. For many tourists it is becoming a favorite place in Jerusalem. There are no street stalls with t-shirts and carpets, do not bother sellers, not homanit the crowd. The silent stone streets seemed to tolerate hundreds of years ago. Not everywhere tourist can go - most of the quarter, and closed off from the outside world by a wall, is closed to visitors. To penetrate into these internal spaces is possible only at the invitation of a local resident. At 22.00 the gates of the quarter are locked at night as the doors of the house, which residents want to feel safe.

A close-knit Armenian community was born here, in the South-Western corner of the Old city, where once was located the camp of a Roman Legion, in the early eleventh century.

In General, the Armenian presence in the Holy Land dates back to the III century - even then, there arrived a multitude of pilgrims from Armenia, the first country in the world to officially accept Christianity. Many of the pilgrims stayed in Jerusalem forever at the time, the Diaspora has reached 25 thousand people. People build homes, churches and monasteries throughout the Holy Land; Armenian Church gaining influence: by the seventh century in Palestine, there were 70 Armenian monasteries. Now the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the three major guardians of the Christian shrines in the Holy Land along with Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

Muslims expelled from Jerusalem of the crusaders, very loyal to the Armenians, who did not pose a threat to them. In the XIV century, under the Mamluks, the Armenian community was allowed to protect a quarter of the wall. Entering through the main (West) gate in the wall, you can see the inscription in Arabic that says that in 1488 by decree of the Sultan is forbidden to harm this Holy place.

Of course, in the twentieth century a kind of a security certificate no longer worked. Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and the six day war of 1967, greatly reduced the community: many died, many left Israel. Now in the Armenian quarter, according to different estimates there are from a half to three thousand Armenians.

Behind the robust, stone wall leisurely flow of days. There are school, shops, clinic, a Seminary, a monastery, the magnificent Cathedral of St. Jacob, the Church, the residence of the Patriarch, a rich library of Calouste Gulbenkian, the oldest in Jerusalem printing. The Patriarchate owns the entire estate in the quarter, including residential buildings, giving the community members the right of residence. Medical services are provided here for a nominal fee, and the elderly and the poor of the neighborhood fed for free.

Got here tourists come to the delight from the products of local potters (tableware, vases, Souvenirs with a predominance of blue) and from taverns, which displays many historical and even antique items. However, the evening comes, tourists are removed, gates locked: quarter live their lives, not intended for prying eyes.