As you pass Omar Ibn el Khattab Square, just before you descend the steps into David Street, you’ll see a road heading off to the right, past the moat and the Tower of David. This is the Armenian Patriarchate Road, leading into the Armenian Quarter, a walled world unto itself, centered around Armenian religious structures and home to much of Jerusalem’s Armenian community. Around a.d. 300, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity, predating Emperor Constantine’s conversion of the Roman Empire by several decades. From that time, there has always been an Armenian presence in Jerusalem.
Follow the Armenian Patriarchate Road, look left for an entrance into the walled Armenian Quarter, and follow the signs.
Saint James Cathedral ★★ is the most important site in the Armenian Quarter. Entered through the Armenian Monastery on Armenian Patriarchate Road, it dates from the 11th and 12th centuries and is built on the site of earlier churches. It commemorates the place where James the Elder, son of Zebedee, was put to death by order of Herod Agrippa I in a.d. 44 (Acts 12:2). The cathedral also contains the tomb of James, the oldest brother of Jesus and first bishop of the Jerusalem Christian community. This James was the author of the Epistle of James and was stoned to death in a.d. 62. The cathedral, with its rich interior of hanging lamps, censers (for burning incense), and ceremonial objects, may be visited for services daily from 3 to 3:30pm.