Once this 19th-century series of structures surrounding the beautiful Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral was the world's largest "hotel"; it could accommodate 10,000 Russian pilgrims at one time (until World War I, Russians composed the largest block of pilgrims in the Holy Land). Today, this neglected but architecturally striking enclave serves as a municipal parking lot and an Israeli prison; at visiting times, families of prisoners can often be seen huddling outside the police barricades. Around the back, near the entrance to the prison, a low iron fence surrounds a monumental Herodian-era column abandoned in the process of being carved directly from bedrock -- it apparently cracked and was abandoned, but its size has led to speculation that it may have been meant to adorn The Temple complex. The Underground Prisoners Museum is housed in part of the Russian Compound complex behind Safra Square. There are plans to restore the pilgrimage buildings, and to turn the parking lots into gardens and the complex into luxury and moderate hotels. Today it remains an oddly romantic touch of St. Petersburg right in the heart of Jerusalem.
As you walk along Jaffa Road from Zion Square, look up to your left (north), before the main post office, and you'll see the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.