Modern Day Muristan, a Bridge Between Past & Present
Situated in the Christian Quarter of Israel’s capital city, Muristan is a unique and history-packed destination. If you are there to see many of the other impressive religious sites in the surrounding area (Church of the Holy Sepulchre is just north, along with the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer to name a couple), enjoy a stroll around these cobblestone paths. Aside from being a refreshing walk, you’ll pick up some fascinating history and cultural insights as well.
History to Present
Originally the very first Knights Hospitaller, one of the many names given to the Catholic military that was formed in medieval times (along with Order of Saint John, Hospitallers, and more), Muristan has become a modern-day flea market. It is a combination of streets and shops that slice through the culture-rich Old City of Jerusalem. You can find coffee shops, gift shops, and a Greek bazaar that hosts a variety of beautiful leather goods.
The significance of the location, along with its inception, dates as far back as Antiochus V. According to history, Antiochus V was heading for Jerusalem to mete out punishment to the high priest for desecrating King David’s tomb. While on the way, the king was struck by a prophecy at Gagultha that told him to leave the high priest alone. The prophetic message also charged Antiochus V with the task of building a people’s hospital in that very location, which is exactly what he did.
Little remains of the original construction within the area. The Muristan was destroyed, but throughout the ages, different sections were reconstructed, and additions were built by various cultures and rulers of the time. The hospital remained in use for many centuries throughout the turbulent history of the region, passing through various hands but almost always kept active. Today there is only a modern memorial commemorating the area, while any archeological findings such as arches and some fragments of the north door of the Hospitaller's church of St. Mary Latina were transferred to the Church of the Redeemer.
Tourists enjoy visiting this area for its far-reaching historical interest along with the lovely shops and pleasant view that greets you along the way. Next time you’re in Israel, plan a stopover at Muristan for a great day trip.