best place to begin your walk down King David Street is where all of
modern Jerusalem started – at the Montefiori windmill. As you enjoy the
view of old and new Jerusalem, it might be hard to imagine that as late
as 1860, this was the only structure standing outside the walled city.
The windmill was named for the British Jewish philanthropist Moses
Montefiori, although the money for the purchase came from an American
Jew, Judah Touro, who left $50,000 for the good of the Jews of
Jerusalem. Montefiori was the executor of Touro’s estate. Touro did get
the main street of the adjoining gentrifi neighborhood of Yemin Moshe
named after him, which you’ll discover if you wander down that way.
returning to the busy King David, enjoy a saunter through the strip of
public park that parallels the street. You’ll get a magnificent view of
the Old City walls, from Jaffa Gate to Mount Zion. On a clear day, you
can look eastward into the Judean Desert, and even the Mountains of Moab
across the Dead Sea.
from the usual assortment of trees and flowers there’s something you
don’t find in every park: 2,000-year-old tombs. The grouping, known as
Herod’s family tomb, looks like a cave cut into the rock
in a way typical to multi-generational burial chambers of the wealthy at
the time of the Second Temple.
through the park until it connects with Emile Botta Street, which will
lead you back to King David. First, you’ll pass the Pontifical Biblical
Institute, built in 1927 in neo-Renaissance style. The institute has a
small museum, where you can view a real Egyptian mummy.
to the entrance of the King David Hotel, built between 1929 and 1931 by
the Egyptian Jewish Mouseri family. In 1938, the southern part of the
hotel became an administrative center for the British Mandate. You’ll
see a hint of the trauma that struck the building July 22, 1946, when it
was blown up by the underground army, the Etzel, in protest over
British anti-Zionist policy killing 91 people.
the street is a YMCA that is like none other in the world. Its
architect was Arthur Louis Harmon, who also designed the Empire State
Building in New York City. If the King David is a near-Eastern festival,
the “Y” is no less of a party, to which 2,000 years’ worth of
architectural styles have been invited – from the Herodian-style
masonry, to the red-and-beige interlocking stones typical of the 13th century Mamelukes, down to the Art-Deco angel that graces the main entry.
to walk down King David Street toward its junction with Agron Street,
you’ll reach David’s Citadel, another luxurious Jerusalem hotel that has
been giving the King David some stiff competition in recent years.
you get to David’s Citadel, however, bear left on to Ben Shimon Street.
Another left past the Gesher Center (a seminar centre specializing in
programming that bridges the Orthodox-secular divide) will lead you to a
parking lot, at the far end of which is the World Center for the
Heritage of North African Jewry. The interior has been renovated in
Spanish-Moorish style, and the building’s piece-de-resistance is a
magnificent clerestory, adorned with intricate wood and bas-relief
plaster work, and mosaic baseboards and walls executed by builders who
came from Morocco especially for the project. Rooms surrounding the
clerestory are used for lectures and study sessions, as well as art and
folklore exhibits, to honor the long and glorious history of North
African Jewry, and educate future generations about it.
to next? Depending on time and inclination, you can cross Agron Street
and walk though Independence Park to Solomon Street, and the restored
Nahalat Shiva area of downtown Jerusalem, where fun shopping, good
eating, and countless opportunities for people watching await. Or, you
could turn right at Agron, and head toward the Jaffa Gate to explore the
Old City markets.