Nachalat Shiva

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Nachalt Shiva (Hebrew for the' Estate of the Seven'), located in the center of modern Jerusalem, is a very old neighborhood that was founded at the end of the 19th century. Today this neighborhood has an enormous selection of cafés, restaurants and artists' shops scattered all along Yoel Solomon pedestrian mall (its main street)

History

This was the third neighborhood to be established as part of the move out of the Old City Walls. The neighborhood was founded thanks to an initiative of seven Jerusalemite youngsters who wanted to improve the quality of their lives and decided to leave the crowded and difficult conditions in the Jewish Quarter. They came from established Ashkenazi families that were part of the Old Settlement (the religious Jewish settlement in Israel which lived in Israel prior to the Zionist immigration) and were inspired by previous successful attempts to settle outside the city walls. Nevertheless, this sort of settlement was still considered dangerous and unpopular, and so, to increase the sense of security, the group chose a location near the Russian Compound that was built some years earlier, rather than a location on the main road stretching between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Purchasing the lands for the neighborhood was no small thing. Most of the Jews in Jerusalem were citizens of European nations and were, as result, foreign citizens in the Ottoman Empire, a status which prohibited them from buying land and building on it. Therefore, the mission of purchasing the land was put in the hands of Leib Horowitz's wife, who was born in the country and so had a Turkish citizenship. She negotiated with the authorities to attain the land while repeatedly claiming that the land was needed for "planting a field of wheat to make Matzoth". Eventually, the field was registered in her name.

The neighborhood didn't enjoy the well-planned infrastructure or detailed architectural plan that characterized the construction of other neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and so, the neighborhood developed according to the means and needs of its inhabitants. The houses were connected to each other by a network of narrow alleys that were barely wide enough to allow passage, a style of building very reminiscent of the Old City. This characteristic setback the city's development, but as time went by, after the area was renovated, this same feature proved to be the neighborhood's most distinguishing feature and the secret of its charm.

Over the years, the younger inhabitants moved to more spacious places outside the city center and the buildings and infrastructure were slowly going down hill. In the 1960's, a plan to demolish Nachalat Shiva was brought forward and approved, but public pressure and the raising awareness to the importance of preserving historical sites prevented this from happening. Instead, a plan to reconstruct, renovate a preserve the area was put into motion and today the neighborhood is one of the most vibrant places in town and sets an excellent example for a successful preservation project.
 

Shopping

At the entrance to Yoel Salomon St you have the Guild of Ceramists gallery shop (27 Salomon St., 02-6244065, Daily 9:30-20:30, Fri till 15:00, Sat closed), which offers collections of ceramics created by Israeli artists that differ greatly in style. Further down the street you have two other ceramic shops worthy of note. Cadim (4 Salomon St., 02-6234869, Daily 9:00-21:00, Fri till 15:00, Sat closed) and Altogether 8 (11 Salomon St., 02-6247250 Daily 9:30-20:30, Fri till 15:00, Sat closed), a smaller ceramics shop which has a welcoming atmosphere about it. On number 6 Yoel Salomon St. in Nahalat Shiva, you'll find a rather fancy jewelry shop that has a wide selection of designs with emphasis on Jewish imagery (Salomon Jewellers, 02-6236031, Daily 10:00-22:00, Fri till 15:00).

Finally, if wine is what you're after, the best wine shop in the centre of town would have to be Avi Ben -one of the finest wine shops in Jerusalem (22 Rivlin St., 02-6223011, Daily 9:00-20:00, Thu till 22:00, Fri till 16:00, Sat closed). The shop is situated in a beautifully preserved building, on the right hand side of the entrance to Yoel Salomon Street. The owners/shop keepers are very knowledgeable about their business and the selection of local and foreign wine is very impressive.

More in this category: « Yemin Moshe Ein Karem »
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