The Armenian quarter is the oldest closed community in the Old City


Perhaps the most inaccessible site of ancient Jerusalem is its colorful Armenian quarter, the smallest of the four main parts of the city: Muslim, Jewish and Christian. It would be more accurate to say that the part of the quarter where churches, cells and monasteries are located, that is the most interesting part of it, is inaccessible.

The Armenian quarter is unique in that it has its own walls, in addition to the walls of the Old City. In addition, there is a version that the Armenian Quarter is located neatly in the territory where the palace of King Herod used to be located.
The quarter occupies about 1/6 of the old city, and it is the least populated - look: in the Muslim quarter about 20 thousand people, in the Jewish about 12 thousand, in the Christian (Greeks, Catholics, Ethiopians, Copts) another six thousand. There are only 200 Armenians.

Armenians are allowed to visit the streets of the quarter only within the framework of an organized tour by prior agreement. The nearby Cathedral and the Museum of Armenian History are the only places open to the public.

It is generally believed that the first Armenians arrived in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago, in the first century AD. The construction of churches and monasteries, which have not survived to this day, began at that time, but in their place are slightly more new temples built by Armenians in the 12th and 16th centuries.
Thus, the Armenian community in Jerusalem can be considered the oldest of all the Christians living in the city. It is also an interesting fact that after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom in 1291 and the seizure of the Holy Land by Muslims, all Christians but not the Armenians fled. The latter managed to negotiate with the Muslims to allow them to remain in Jerusalem. Not for nothing, of course, but in return for the payment of a "tax on the infidels", but it allowed for the preservation of presence and property.
The gates of the Armenian Quarter are located 200 meters from the Zion or Jaffa gates, and lead to an ancient wooden door, by which we will see the entrance to the Cathedral. The present building in the form of a cross was built in the 13th century, looks small but very richly decorated, making many visitors lose the gift of speech from astonishment.
By the way, electricity and even daylight are not used to illuminate the Cathedral. A number of oil lamps are connected to the ceiling, which together with candles illuminate the interior rooms.

With your eyes up, you can see the Star of David on the vault. On the left of the entrance there are three small chapels - the first for Makariya, the first bishop of Jerusalem, the second for St. James, and the third for St James. It’s mine. It’s the oldest building in the church, and it dates back to the sixth century.
Jacob, brother of John, was one of twelve apostles of Jesus. According to legend, he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa in 44 AD. The star on the floor of the chapel marks the burial site of his head. Religious tourists come to the cathedral specifically to kiss the doors of Jacob’s tomb, decorated with shells of turtles and clams.
In the center of the church is the main chapel, called in Christianity "apsida". Under the altar is buried another Jacob, brother of Jesus and first bishop of Jerusalem.

In addition to the Jacob Cathedral, the Armenian Monastery includes the Church of Saint Theodore and Holy Archangels of Michael and Gabriel, the building of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the first in Palestine, a monastery printing house organized by Patriarch Yesaya in 1865. In the church of Saint Theodore there is a monastery repository of Armenian manuscripts, which is considered the second largest in the world after the meeting of Matenadaran in Yerevan.

Suddenly see a football field in the middle of a convent? It will be even more unusual to hear that football is played here not only by residents of the quarter, but also by football lovers from Catholics, Franciscans, Jews and many others.

The Old City is chronically short of free land (to say the least), so the football field in the centre of Old Jerusalem is fantastic!

In the center of the quarter grows a very old olive tree, to which, according to the Gospel, Jesus Christ was tied, at a time when high priests made a decision about what to do with it.
Later, a belief emerged that the fruit of this tree cures infertility. You may or may not believe it, but there is no doubt that only the belief in success cures all evils and strengthens you.

There are other sights in the Armenian quarter:

The Tower of David at the Jaffa Gate is a fortress building II century B.C.
For a long time it served to defend the city, and now it hosts folk arts fairs, concerts and light and sound shows;
The Zion Gate is one of the eight gates of the Old City. The gate was built in 1540, when Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire;
The Mardigian Museum, dedicated to the history and culture of the Armenian people in the Holy Land. The museum’s collection contains objects of life, manuscripts, books, documents.
St. Mark’s church, belonging to the Syrian community. His services are conducted in the Aramaic language, which was native to the Savior.

There are also numerous workshops in the Armenian quarter where they manufacture ceramics with colorful hand painting according to old technology. In the workshops you can watch the birth of jars, dishes, trays with bright ornamentation, there everyone can buy any of the items.
The most popular item is a ceramic grenade, which Armenians consider a symbol of the unity of their people.

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