Once a distant location from the city of Jerusalem, the First Station is located in the modern city center. It is located between Jewish and Muslim neighborhoods. Until the late nineties the trains arrived to this station and not to the new Malha station. In the last few years, it has become one of the hotspots, especially on Friday’s and Saturday’s, with the bars and restaurants that are open during Shabbat, live music and markets. Near the First Station there is also the Yes Planet cinema that is open during Shabbat and the Khan Theater. The area is surrounded by greenery: on one side the natural Bible Hill and on the other the Railway Park. For jogging, a live concert or just a cold beer on Friday night this is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours.
Until the end of the 19th century, all of the visitors that
wanted to see Jerusalem came on horse back or with a carriage.
Finally in 1892 the railroad track was built between Jaffa
(near Tel Aviv) and Jerusalem. Eliezer ben Yehuda,
the driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language
in the modern era, described the arrival of the train to Jerusalem
and gave it its first name – “house of steel” or in Hebrew Rakevet.
During the Othman period the most famous figure who used
it was Benjamin Herzl, known as “the visionary of the state of
Israel”. He came to Jerusalem trying to meet with the German
Kaiser, Wilhelm the Second, and get his approval for Jewish
settlement in Palestine. The train continued to operate regularly
after the changes of government between the Othman Empire
and the British mandate. Toward the end of the mandate period
members of the Ezel resistance organization tried to bomb this train station.
It was a short time after the bombing event in King David Hotel. The underground fighters came to
the station disguised and carrying explosive suitcases. Because of prior intelligence information,
their attack was anticipated and avoided by police forces and detectives who chased and eventually
caught them. One underground fighter was sentenced to death.
During the war of 1948, the train stopped operating because
the location of the stations was on the border between Israel
and the Jordanian neighborhood of Beit Safafa.
Only at the end of 1949, due to the Rodus agreements,
the train resumed its function. Since the unification of the city,
in 1967 during the Six days war till 1998 the train used only as
an attraction and not as the main transportation vehicle to the
city. It was too slow and buses drove faster.
During the nineties the complex was officially closed.
Only in 2011 the Jerusalem Development Authority took over
and restored the historical buildings. The restoration works
took a couple of years. The real challenge was to uncover the
different protection layers from the British Mandate and Israeli
Today the First station is an entertainment hub with bars, cafes and restaurants.
It is one of the few places open during Friday night and Saturday with live music,
dance lessons and children activities during the day. The outdoor space of the station allows to
conduct fairs, festivals and a weekly food market and arts & crafts.
Between the closing of the first train station and the reopening
in Malha station in 2005, the old railway was neglected,
forgotten and filled with garbage from the surrounding
neighborhoods. The first idea of the Jerusalem municipality
was to build a main road instead of the tracks.
But the citizens along these areas had another idea in mind:
to create a community park. In one of the meetings of the
architects with Mayor Lupliansky’s, flyers announcing the
opening of a community garden waited for them.
They came as individuals to the opening and understood the
necessity of a green lung between the buildings.
Today the railway park is 7 km long. Trees and grass were
planted along the sides together with benches and small juice
and cafe stands. On week days and weekends you can see joggers,
families and old people walking along the park’s paths.
It is a meeting place between Muslims, orthodox and secular Jews.
It’s not easy to find a small piece of natural vegetation in
the middle of a Metropolis. This small hill is located between
Hinom Valley and the Old City to the east and the German
Colony to the west. The hill is protected from real estate deals.
In each and every season it is possible to watch the blooming
of the local flowers: the colchicum during autumn, the anemone
during winter and the drimia at the end of the summer.
It is considered by the local citizens a great romantic place
to watch the sunset.
In 1917, when General Allenby entered the city of Jerusalem,
he had the support of the great Brittan army. Several monuments
and cemeteries were erected in the honor of the English soldiers.
This church was built as a special monument to the
Scottish soldiers who fought during World War I.
It bears the name of the patron Saint of Scotland- Saint Andrew,
the apostle, brother of Saint Peter.
The building is relatively new, completed only in 1930.
The design is clean and simple, from the outside and the inside.
It echoes the international or Bauhaus architectural style.
Near the official military monument are located two small tombs, dedicated to special worriers:
Bruce and Rab, the two tracking dogs who found their death during the war.
By foot: leaving the hostel, turn right to Queen Shlomziyon Street. Cross the main junction and keep
on walking in King David street. When its ending take the road on your right to Derech Beit Lehem
till you’ll see the First Station in front of you
By bus: from the corner of Jaffa Road and King George street take bus number 77 or 34 to .