Those familiar with the history of Jerusalem will know the transformation this city underwent in the past 160 years. Moses Montefiore, a British Jewish banker and philanthropist, played a central role in the development of the New City outside the old city walls. His name is commemorated in no less than 4 Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Less known is the influence of Christian communities on modern Jerusalem, in particular the influence of the Protestant communities. It all started when Prussian Protestants joined forces with British Anglicans to establish an Anglican-German bishopric in the Holy City in the 1840s. Following a centuries old ban on building churches and Christian institutions in the Holy Land, the Ottoman rulers eased the restrictions and, by the 1840s, the Protestants were allowed to build their very first church in Jerusalem. This was the first Protestant church in the entire Middle East.
While other Christian congregations mostly concerned themselves with pilgrims of their faith, these early Protestants came as missionaries for the purpose of christianizing Jews. Schools were built, hospitals and orphanages opened their doors, all offering their services at no cost. As they realized that their mission was failing, they began to proselytize primarily among orthodox Christians.
Together with the missionaries came explorers, for example those sent by the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF). Among those explorers were the American Edward Robinson, and the British Charles Wilson and Charles Warren, who made some of the most important archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land. Conrad Schick, a missionary from Germany, later became one of the foremost architects of the New City of Jerusalem, as well as the builder of detailed models of the Temple Mount and other historic venues. Schick was an avid archeologist, too, and was the first to identify the Siloam inscription in Hezekiah’s tunnel.
Other Christian communities arrived, like the German Templer sect, who built the German Colony, and a group of Americans around Anna and Horatio Spafford who founded the American Colony. The later were joined by Swedes and made a name for their philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem, regardless of religious affiliation.
The tour begins at the American Colony, today the location of an upscale hotel by the same name. From there we drive to Hanevi’im street (the Prophets street) for a walking tour along this historic street. Next stop is Christ Church and the Conrad Schick museum near Jaffa Gate. From there we walk to the Gobat school and the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, where some of the most famous explorers and archaeologists are buried.
After a lunch break at the old railway station we are going to explore the German colony, followed by a visit to the “Jesushilfe” leper hospital, now a center for modern design.
- American Colony – the story of the American and Swedish missionaries.
- Hanevi’im Street – one of the first streets that developed outside the Old City, the “Street of the Prophets” offers a rich and varied mix of 19th century hospitals, schools, missions, consulates, and residencies of local and foreign dignitaries.
- Christ Church and Conrad Schick Museum – Christ Church is the first Protestant church in Jerusalem and the entire Middle East and its inside shows a unique blend of Christian and Jewish motives; the Conrad Schick Museum displays a selection of historic models, including the Temple Mount model.
- Protestant cemetery – a pantheon of 19th century Holy Land explorers and who-is-who such as Horatio Spafford; explorers Sir Flinders Petrie, James Leslie Starkey, Paul Palmer, James Duncan, Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake, and Conrad Schick (who was also an important architect); Johann Ludwig Schneller, founder of the Syrian orphanage; bishops Alexander, Gobat and Barclay; and many more to list.
- Old Jerusalem railway station – the first railway line connecting Jerusalem with Jaffa and the sea.
- German Colony – we walk along Emek Rephaim St. and Lloyd George St. to tell the story of this neighborhood, the rise and decline of its founders as well as some present day anecdotes.
- “Jesushilfe” Asylum (Hansen’s Hospital) – for more than 100 years this building served as a sanatorium for the treatment of people afflicted with Hansen disease, commonly known as lepers. Today it holds a center for modern design.
Duration: Full day.
Best time: All year round
From Jerusalem: $430*
From Tel Aviv: $490*
Additional quotes – for different locations, group or VIP tours – upon request!
* All prices are daily fees that cover planning and guiding.
Not included are transportation, entry fees (where required), meals, and any other personal expenses. I will be happy to organize a car or minibus with driver.