Sunday, January 27, 2013

Machane Yehuda.

Machane Yehuda (Image from inisrael.com)
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that no trip is complete for me unless I head to the market and I love, love, love old city markets.  The hustle, the bustle, fruits and vegetables piled up high, colorful bins of spices, the smell of food being cooked - I could spend hours wandering about.


Luck would have it, there is a market in Jerusalem.   The vibrant Machane (or Mahane) Yehuda market, nicknamed "MachneYuda" or simply “The Shuk” in Hebrew is located in the heart of the old city. 

The Shuk is located in a neighborhood of the same name.  The neighborhood was established in 1887 by three business partners — Johannes Frutiger (a German Protestant and owner of the largest bank in Palestine), Shalom Konstrum, and Joseph Navon — and was named after Navon's brother, Yehuda.  It adjoined another neighborhood, Beit Ya'akov which was  founded in 1885.

Image from lubin.co.uk/
At the end of the 19th century, a marketplace was established between the two neighborhoods on an empty lot owned by the Sephardi Valero family.  This market was known as Shuk Beit Yaakov (Beit Yaakov Market). As the new neighborhoods outside the Old City grew, the Beit Yaakov Market grew apace with more stalls, tents and pavilions.   The market has continued to grow and evolve to the delight of some Isrealis and to the discontent of others. I'm hoping to see the *old* market and ignore the *modern* stuff which I can find at home.

The present day Shuk is bounded by Jaffa Road to the north, Agrippas Street to the south, Beit Yaakov Street to the west, and Kiach Street to the east.   The market itself has two major streets: Eitz Chaim Street (the covered market) and Mahane Yehuda Street (the open-air market). Bisecting these two streets are smaller streets that are named for fruits and nuts—Afarsek (Peach) Street, Agas (Pear) Street, Egoz (Walnut) Street, Shaked (Almond) Street, Shezif (Plum) Street, Tapuach (Apple) Street, and Tut (Berry) Street.

Inside the Shuk, there are than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; and housewares, textiles, and Judaica.  Located inside the market plenty of falafel and shawarma stands, juice bars, cafes, and restaurants as well as clothing boutiques and stores selling Judaica.  It's a one stop shopping place!

Image by deror_avi
On Thursdays and Fridays, the marketplace is filled with shoppers stocking up for Shabbat until the Friday afternoon sounding of the bugle that signifies the market will close for the Sabbath. I won't be there on Friday but I have a feeling it will still be crowded - old city markets usually are.

The market's website offers several guided tours as well as the option to purchase a ticket for a self-guided tour of the market called "Shuk Bites", where for 99 shekels (as of 2012) a ticket includes both a map with a pre-planned route through the market and "punch-card" vouchers that allow visitors to enjoy tastes of a variety of foods and drinks.  I think I prefer to wander about on my own but will decide on whether or not to get the Shuk Bites ticket later on.

My plan at the moment is to visit the Shuk after my visit to Jericho which brings me back to Jerusalem around 1pm - perfect time to head in to the Market and grab a bite to eat.....though I might  go there on Sunday to get some Purim Day hamantashen.  What could be more authentic an experience that buying hamantashen from a real Jewish bakery on Purim in Israel? :-)