Letter From Jerusalem, No. 6

Letter From Jerusalem, No. 6

The Mamilla neighborhood of Jerusalem was a "no man's land" for 19 years, but after the Six Day War in 1967 it became part of Israel proper. During those years it had been practically destroyed as it stood between the walls of the Old City (Jordanian) and West Jerusalem (Israeli). Now it was ripe for  development.

Initially, beautiful houses were built overlooking the walls of the Old City. A decision was made to allow the imposing Church of St. Vincent de Paul (which had also been a convent/orphanage and school) to remain in place on the heights overlooking what is now the upscale and very lovely Mamilla Mall below. Then the developer began an amazing reconstruction of the old buildings in the area.

First they numbered each stone as they took the historic buildings apart. Then they used those stones to build the open Mall along Mamilla Street, putting the historic houses (now stores) back in their places. They even left the numbers on the stones so that passersby can appreciate  the job that was done. 

The entrance to the Mall is at a busy intersection at the foot of three hills and the Mall street rises (without the pedestrians being aware) until it is up on the level of the Jaffa Gate to the Old City. It is equivalent to an increase of about two stories in a building — an amazing transformation.

It's a real treat to sit on the patio of one of the coffee houses and look at the more than 500-year-old stone walls as you enjoy today's amenities.  The Mall has a great variety of stores and Israelis, Arabs and visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the shopping and the coffee and cake. What a wonderful way to end the day.

If you would like to read Letter from Jerusalem #5, press here. For Letter #7, press here.