Cremieux Street, German Colony, Jerusalem

Cremieux Street, German Colony, Jerusalem

The German Colony (Hebrew: המושבה הגרמנית‎, HaMoshava HaGermanit) is a neighborhood in Jerusalem, established in the second half of the 19th century by members of the German Temple Society. Today the Moshava, as it is popularly known, is an upscale neighborhood bisected by Emek Refaim Street, an avenue lined with trendy shops, restaurants and cafes.


Biblical era

Emek Refaim (Valley of Refaim) is mentioned in the Book of Joshua and 2 Samuel. The name is derived from a legendary race of giants who lived in this region in biblical times.

Templer settlement

Templer Cemetery Jerusalem

Templer Cemetery in the German Colony

In 1873, after establishing colonies in Haifa and Jaffa, members of the Templer sect from Württemberg, Germany, settled on a large tract of land in the Refaim Valley, southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. The land was purchased by one of the colonists, Matthaus Frank, from the Arabs of Beit Safafa.[1][2] The Templers were Christians who broke away from the Protestant church and encouraged their members to settle in the Holy Land to prepare for Messianic salvation. They built their homes in the style to which they were accustomed in Germany - farmhouses of one or two stories, with slanting tiled roofs and shuttered windows, but using local materials such as Jerusalem stone instead of wood and bricks.[3] The colonists engaged in agriculture and traditional trades such as carpentry and blacksmithing. Their homes ran along two parallel streets that would become Emek Refaim and Bethlehem Road. The British Mandatory government deported the German Templers during World War II. As Germans, they were considered enemy citizens, all the more so because they made no effort to disguise their Nazi sympathies. Some of them resettled in Australia.

Palestinian Arab settlement

As the neighborhood expanded south along the valley, many of the lots were purchased by well-to-do Christian Arab families attracted by its location between the road to Bethlehem and the developing neighborhoods of Katamon, Talbiya, and Baka, which were populated by some of Jerusalem's wealthiest Arabs.

After Israeli independence

The Arab residents of Katamon fled in 1948, in the wake of fierce battles for control of the area during the Israeli War of Independence. The abandoned homes in the German Colony and other parts of Katamon were used to house new immigrants. Since the end of the 20th century, the neighborhood has undergone a process of gentrification. Efforts are being made to restore old landmark buildings and incorporate some of their architectural features, such as arched windows and tiled roofs, in new construction. Numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques have opened in the neighborhood, and many affluent families have moved there, pushing up the price of real estate. The German Colony has a large English-speaking population,[4] with the American community comprising both families and singles, permanent immigrants and visitors. The neighborhood is home to the Smadar Theater, Jerusalem's arthouse cinema and a perennial gathering place for the artisterati.[4]


File:Incription over doorway emek refaim.jpg

The colorful history of the German Colony is illustrated by the mix of architectural styles found within a relatively small area. One finds Swabian-style homes, examples of late provincial Ottoman architecture and British Art Deco from the Mandatory period, within close proximity. An example of British architecture is the Scottish Hospice and St Andrew's Church, built in 1927, decorated with local Armenian tilework.[5][6] Some of the Templer homes have biblical inscriptions in German on their lintels, in Fraktur script.

Street names

The side streets of the German Colony are named for Gentile supporters of Zionism and the Jewish people. Apart from the French author Emile Zola, Czech president Tomas Masaryk, and South African prime minister Jan Smuts, many of the streets are named for Englishmen: Tory Prime Minister David Lloyd George, British Labor Party leader Josiah Wedgewood, Colonel John Henry Patterson, commander of the Jewish Legion in World War I and the pro-Zionist British general Wyndham Deedes.[7]


Frank House.Jerusalem.2006

Frank House on Emek Refaim Street

Development plans

For years, developers have been trying to build up the area at the northern entrance to the neighborhood, overlooking Liberty Bell Park. Mass protests in the early 1970s failed to halt the construction of a high-rise apartment building, known as the Omariya compound. In the wake of protests by environmentalists and neighborhood activists, the plans have been altered, and the height of a planned 14-story Four Seasons Hotel has been cut to seven stories.[8]

Israeli-Arab conflict

During the Second Intifada, in September, 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a cafe on Emek Refaim Street, killing seven people.

Notable residents

  • Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel
  • Batya Gur, Israeli novelist and literary critic
  • Charles Winters, American businessman and Zionist


  1. "Hamoshava Hagermanit Beyerushalayim," Itzik Sweiki, SPNI bulletin, p. 23,
  2. Studies in the Economic and Social History of Palestine in the Nineteenth, by Roger Owen, 1982, Southern Illinois University Press, Page 44
  3. Jerusalem: Architecture in the late Ottoman Period
  4. 4.0 4.1 Discover Jerusalem - German Colony
  8. Opposition to 14-story hotel (,7340,L-3350486,00.html)

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at German Colony, Jerusalem. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.