Nachalot to Mahane Yehuda and Jerusalem's Outdoor Market

Copyright 2006 by Morris Rosenthal - - contact info

The Serial Tourist's Guide to Living in Jerusalem

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The main outdoor Shuk in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda (pronounced Mach-Nay), and located between Agrippas and Yafo, it's pretty easy to find on a map or reach in a car, though parking a popular times is a nightmare. Most of the inhabitants of Nachalot walk to Mahane Yehuda to do their food shopping, some walk from as far away as Rechavia. I used to walk up from the German Colony, but I had to be in the area for Ulpan Beit Ha Am in any case. Getting from Bezalel to Agrippas and the shuk looks trivial on a map, but in fact, there's only one straight through "street" you can take: Shilo. Cars are allowed on most of Shilo, but not up and down the stairway onto Bezalel, pictured here from across the street (I'm standing on the mouth of Even Sapir). I went with this picture in part to remind myself to buy some "Magic boxes" of Wissotzky Tea. The big red "W" on the truck driving up Bezalell is the Wissotzky emblem.
Once you climb up the stairs onto Shilo, it's just a question of not straying from path and getting eaten by the lions. There's a drainage gutter down the middle of Shilo for the first half, but when it gets raining in the winter, the whole street can briefly run like a shallow stream. I'm looking at the street level windows as I write this and wonder if I'm exaggerating, but I remember getting my feet soaked on more than one occasion. The little balconies (mirpessot) clinging to the sides of the houses off a quick refuge from the rain if it's one of those winter downpours that cycles between short storm bursts and a steadier drizzle. When you get to the end of the gutter, Shilo transforms into an asphalt street, bending a little to the left and continuing on. As you walk up Shilo, you'll pass Nov to your right, Ber Sheva to your left, Deltan to your left, and Rama to your right.
Right after the gentle bend you get to Tamir Studio, one of the few art studios I've come across in the neighborhoods, which otherwise reminds me of the old city in Z'fat (Safed). A little further on the left is the Givon Dvir, which is typical of the smaller streets in the neighborhood, with no access for automobiles. Sometimes you'll see these three wheel tractors or mini-trucks being used by contractors working in the area. Renovation work in the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood (as opposed to the market) is constant. At times it seems like all of the little stone buildings are being purchased by Americans who build the three or four stories into the air for an American sized house. The real estate market in the whole of Jerusalem is pretty distorted by American Jews buying vacation properties, or purchasing a place for kids learning in Yeshiva and treating it as an investment property.
To the right you see the continuation of Shilo immediately after Givon, along with a row of red and white posts that are probably intended to prevent parking but help to protect pedestrians who are quick enough to jump between them from morons driving up this tiny street at 30 miles an hour. There are some courtyards and unnamed alleys to both sides of Shilo, but the final street you'll pass before emerging onto Agrippas is Hacarmel on the right.I haven't worked out the mathematical possibilities, but there are probably hundreds of unique paths you can take from Bezalel to Agrippas that run through the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood. Only a half dozen or so make sense, the rest result from getting lost and wondering around in circles until you come out on a main road and think you've made a discovery on the order of Columbus.
When you emerge from Shilo onto Agrippas, you're right across the street from the street named Mahane Yehuda, which is the main drag of the open air shuk. If you walk a little uphill on Agrippas, you'll come to Etz Chaim, the main covered road of the shuk, which also goes all the way through to Yafo. Between Mahane Yehuda and Etz Chaim run a warren of little streets and alleys that are also lined with stands on both sides, most selling food products of one type or another. The final picture to the left is not the shuk, but the entrance back into Shilo, between Sal Mazon (Food Basket) and the natural food store. The big purple trash compressor replaces the big old green haul-away trash bins I seem to remember being stationed there ten or more years back. When walking in the alleys of the shuk, make sure you don't get run over by the guys who are endlessly collecting garbage and delivering new stock on long metal carts.

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