Shuk Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s central market

“Try this my friend”

(Nom nom) “wow very nice…”

“Yes you can make this with vodka or sangria or just with water…”

“Try this my friend…”

“Try this my friend…”

“This is really nice. How do you charge?”

“24 shekels for 100gm, my friend”

“Ah okay, give me 100 of this and 100 of that”

(A few minutes later)

“Here you go my friend. 76 shekels please.”

“Wait wasnt it 24 shekels for a hundred grams?”

“Yes but its a bit more per packet.”

“But… (realising I just got ‘tourist trapped’)… okay, here you go”

I walk to another store, same product. The sign said 12 shekels for 100 grams…

That was my introduction to the Shuk Machane Yehuda.

The suqs in the Old City represented the world of the tourist and the world of the locals in the Old City. But Jerusalem today is a metropolis larger than the Old City. The Old City houses just over 20,000 people but Jerusalem houses more than a million.

Despite the size of the city, the fundamentals of life do not change. And people need to do their weekly marketing. To many Jerusalem locals and increasingly to tourist, the most popular market to get things is the central market, Shuk Machane Yehuda.

We went on a Friday, where people were rushing to buy products for the coming Sabbath.

Home to some 250 vendors, you can get almost everything you need at the shuk, fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, seafood, meats, nuts, spices, halva etc

The market has come a long way since its founding. According to wikipedia, the neighbourhood was first established in 1887 and the marketplace established a few years later. The original market grew haphazardly while Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule before it was rebuilt and rehoused in a more permanent and sanitary setting under the British Mandate. Other additions continued to join the market including Iraqi Jews and Ethiopian Jews/Christians.

Food stalls began to make their way into the market. It started simple.

At the turn of this century, the market began to take on a new dimension, cafes, bars and restaurants found their way there, enticed perhaps by the high human traffic. And then came the designer clothing stores and boutiques, turning the shuk from a simple market to a complete nightlife and entertainment district of its own.

This is the life of Jerusalem today, away from the old city. Just be careful with the tourist traps!

There’s more to the market, including its thriving street art scene, but more on that in another post.



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