A windmill, an old neighborhood and a visit of the Davidson Center, an open-air archaeological museum at the South-West corner of the Temple Mount.

A windmill overlooking Jerusalem?  Yes, and prominently.  How funny.  Ever since I spotted it on one of the hills west of the old city I had been curious about it.   Now that David, Maria, and Jack are in town we have moved to an apartment in the neighborhood not far from it.  Today, I saw it up close.

It was built in the 19th century by Moses Montefiore, a philanthropist who wanted to help Jewish immigrants to become self-sufficient.  He built the windmill, a printing press, and a textile factory.  But what is perfect for flat Holland did not work so well for hilly Palestine.  Only 20 days per year produced sufficient winds to run the mill…  It did not function for long.  Today, a small museum remembers Montefiore’s achievements.  But the museum was closed.

The cutest neighborhood is adjacent to the mill.  It is known as Mishkenot Sha’anaim and was founded by Moses Montefiore in the 1860’s as the first Jewish neighborhood outside the old city.  But the first residents did not find it cute at all and had to be paid to live there!  Not being inside the protective city gates meant that it was regularly raided by Bedouin tribes.  In 1948 it was the target of snipers and turned into a slum due to its proximity to the armistice line and to Jordan.  Only recently, in the 1970’s has it been overhauled and restored.  It now houses artists, musicians, a music center, a guest house, a synagogue and residential apartments.  The flowers in bloom were simply incredible and the narrow foot paths too photogenic to pass up.

David and I spent the rest of the day at the Davidson Center, an open-air museum dedicated to the history of the Temple Mount.  The most incredible part of the museum visit was a DVD used by a guide during a tour of the museum:  A full 3D interactive reconstruction of life on the Temple Mount which has been put together by UCLA.  It really does brings to life all the stones and fragments that remain on site.

As promised, my blogs have to be a lot shorter than usual.  If you want to know more about Moses, the neighborhood or the Davidson Center, there is always Google…

Maria and Jack’s trip was uneventful.  Now we are a complete quartet, ready to explore this country.  I hope you will stay tuned.

And after a filling dinner of shwarma, falafel, kebab and hummus – what else?! – I say:

Good night.