Machane Yehuda Market Tour: Israel Travel Tried and Tested

  • History of the Shuk
  • The ever changing evolution of a place we once knew
  • Bigger than life graffiti Street Art gallery
  • A taste of many cultures; multinational culinary experience

Many visitors and even locals are surprised to learn that what is commonly known today as the Machane Yehuda Shuk was once known as the Beit Yaakov market and before that known as Vilaro’s yard.  We start out our tour with an historical overview of how this central market came about being at this location. Taking a closer look at Jaffa road that was the main artery from the Old City of Jerusalem to farming villages in the west that were providing the fresh produce.

Taking a look at some of the first building complexes that were built here towards the very end of the 19th century. And trying to imagine the challenges of those pioneers who came to live here and what was then the middle of nowhere.  Getting to know some of the historical leaders of the Jewish community at that time Haim Vilaro a Jewish banker who had purchased many of the lands around us and Yosef Rivlin a crazed building developer who encouraged so many families to make the move from the old town out here to the new.

Taking a closer look at the market itself we notice that the makeup of the type of stores that was the core of the market 20 years ago is in the process of change. We can still see the traditional fruits and vegetables and fresh produce housewares and basic textiles. But in between and all around we see many more eateries, coffee shops and bars that represent the transformation into a popular nightlife destination.

Around us we might notice groups of Israeli internal tourism with a guide speaking with them in Hebrew and telling the stories of the market and it’s evolution.

Some years ago a young British Jewish street artist named Solomon Souza chose the shutter doors of the shops in the market as canvas for an open air gallery of murals that he painted here. And over 150 storefronts Souza and others painted portraits of historical figures from the Jewish community and internationals along with other works of art showing biblical events, scenery and animals. Although many of the murals are hidden during the day when the shops are open, typically we can still see some of them and speak about the historical figures that they represent and learn more about the artist who painted them.

This Market is a platform for the in-gathering of the diaspora, we can find here Jews who are descendants of those who came from many places around the world. The unique cultural mix that is available here also provides a taste of home cooking of many different menus. Iced coffee, rugelach cake, halava and kanafe along side, borekas cheese and wine tasting, schnezel in challah bread, aris in pita, shawarma in lafa, kubeh soup and majadera. The combinations are endless.