Leisure Culture in New Jerusalem

November 21st 2012

Jerusalem may be best known as the Holy City, but there is a bustling and modern counterpart to this ancient pilgrimage destination. Today there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops for people who want a break from seeing the sites and instead want to mingle with the local bourgeoisie. Pick up some great souvenirs and hang out with the young people in town at the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, check out the beautiful neighborhood known as the German Colony, and get a taste for the upscale boutiques at the contemporary Mamilla Mall.

Just off Jaffa Road in the city center, the pedestrian mall of Ben Yehuda Street is a lively slice of life in Jerusalem. Stroll down the thoroughfare and check out the cute shops selling Israeli-made art and Judaica. Wander through the surrounding cobblestoned streets to find trendy boutiques, edgy bookstore-cum-cafes and charming pubs. There are often street performers throughout the area, and it always has a jovial feel.

Continue down Jaffa Road toward the Old City, where you will find the upscale Mamilla Mall, just before the Jaffa Gate. The $150 million pedestrian mall was named for its surrounding neighborhood and opened to much anticipation in 2007. There are plenty of dining and shopping options here, ranging from international chains to homegrown boutiques. It’s a wonderful place to stop before or after a day spent exploring the Old City.

Finally, make your way to the German Colony. Emek Refaim, the main street of this quaint, residential neighborhood, is home to a wonderful mix of beautiful architecture and wonderful shops and restaurants. Ottoman and German Templar buildings give this area its distinctive feel, while more and more stores and cafes are opening their doors in the German Colony. It’s a great place to get away from the tourist throngs and spend a day living like a bourgeois local.

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