advertisement

The Damascus Gate, the largest and most magnificent of all the entrances to the Old City, is the main route into the Old City from East Jerusalem. Once you are inside the gate, cafes, shops, and market stalls line a wide-stepped entrance street going downhill, Whether you take El-Wad Road (the Valley Road) to the left or Suq Khan es-Zeit (the Market of the Inn of the Olive Oil) to the right, the way becomes very narrow and confusing. Unlike the markets near the Jaffa Gate, which cater primarily to tourists, this part of the bazaar is an authentic market used by the people of East Jerusalem. You’ll stalls of spices and coffees, craft shops, bread bakeries, shops selling sneakers and children’s wear, tiny one-chair barber establishments, and more.

Suq Khan es-Zeit eventually becomes the covered Suq El Attarin, or Bazaar of the Spices, now mostly a clothing bazaar. In other centuries, this covered market was lined with open sacks of cumin, cocoa, sesame, pepper, sumac, saffron, and all kinds of beans, dried herbs, medicines, and vegetables. Parallel and to the right of this central market street is the covered Suq El-Lahamin (the Butchers’ Bazaar), its pavement often slippery with puddles of blood.

If you continue walking straight, eventually Suq El Attarin will cross David Street, and soon thereafter it becomes the recently excavated and renovated Cardo (the main street of Roman and Byzantine Jerusalem), which runs through the restored Jewish Quarter. Here you will find modern, Jewish-owner tourist shops. The area, incidentally, is well patrolled by police officers.