Markets are important hubs of economic and social activity in cities throughout the world, today as well as in ancient times, and Israel is no exception. Visitors to markets experience the colors, aromas, flavors and sounds of merchants selling their wares. Some markets are open daily while others operate only on specific days or travel from town to town.
Israel has a wide variety of markets. Some specialize in one type of goods and others offer visitors everything. There are large markets and small intimate markets, farmers markets, art markets and flea markets. Israel's markets draw an unusual mix of people thanks to the great diversity of its population. Each group has its own traditions, language and dress - Jews, Arabs, people who came from East and West, Russians and Ethiopians, Bedouins, Druze and others.
Markets are being renovated and the span of their operations is expanding. Today Israel's markets also offer gourmet restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques. The markets have also developed into tourist attractions for travelers who consider them to be a destination for folklore and unique food and an interesting place to meet people.
Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
The Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem has existed since the mid-19th century, when the first Jewish neighborhoods were built along Jaffa Road. It began as a temporary market operated by residents of nearby Arab villages who came to sell their produce.
In the early 20th century the market began to expand. Jewish merchants built buildings and stores between Jaffa Rd. and Agripas St. During this period the market was given its current name, "Mahane Yehuda", after the adjacent neighborhood.
Today the market is extensive, diverse, vibrant and lively and it has become a tourist attraction. It is a popular market with colorful merchants and customers. Alongside its traditional activity and simple restaurants, today Mahane Yehuda market offers gourmet restaurants, cafes, pubs and boutiques selling clothes and jewelry.
The market is near a cluster of neighborhoods called Nachlaot which were founded in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The original nature of this area, characterized by low stone houses, narrow alleys and synagogues, remains the same to this day.
The market was founded in the 1880's on land owned by the Greek Orthodox church and was called Suka-Dayar (The Monastery Market).
Over the years, the market grew and expanded. Its current ambiance and name were established in the 1950's.
Visitors experience the flea market's unique charm as they wander through its alleys and streets. The shops offer Persian rugs, antique furniture, jewelry and
tapestries, colorful fabrics and lots of finds for collectors. In the courtyard peddlers display secondhand goods, used clothing, tools, old books and many people come to search the piles laid out on temporary stalls or on the stone floor.
In recent years the traditional simple restaurants have been joined by chefs' restaurants, pubs, designer shops and inns. The area offers other interesting sights as well, such as Clock Tower Square, the Han Manuli building, the Saraya building and the ancient Jaffa port.
The market was first built in the 18th century, during the rule of Daher el-Omar, and was then renovated and expanded by the governor of Acre Suleiman Pasha.
There are a number of different sections: the White Market, the Turkish Bazaar and the lively main market area. The market has an Oriental atmosphere and its shops offer spices, Middle Eastern sweets, fruit juices and sugar cane, high quality vegetables, medicinal herbs and fresh fish straight from the fishermen's nets. While strolling along the winding main street of the market, visitors encounter craftsmen, perfume makers, silversmiths and bakers.
The market offers a diverse choice of restaurants -Middle Eastern, excellent humus, fish and seafood. Numerous historical sites are located near the market: The Knights' Halls and Templars' Tunnels, the ancient Turkish bath, the ancient Khan al-Umdan inn and the prominent al Jazzar Mosque.
Photographs and writes about sites in Israel