One of the four quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Muslim Quarter is the largest and liveliest in the city, beginning with the Via Dolorosa curving through narrow squares on its way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Neighbourhood mosques, churches and local eateries pack the quarter, populated by small shops and family-friendly gathering spots.
The bustling city market of the Muslim Quarter offers a true Middle Eastern shopping experience, featuring colourful stalls and endless aisles overflowing with spices, delicately designed dresses, religious relics and souvenirs. The air is thick with aromas from tiny cafes and bakeries selling fresh hummus, handmade baklava, knafeh and rich, saucy stews. In addition to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, tourist attractions include striking medieval Islamic architecture, the massive gold Dome of the Rock, and the black-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Muslim Quarter covers the northeast section of the Old City, between Damascus Gate and the Western Wall, and just east of Lions’ Gate. Due to the extremely narrow lanes, city transportation stops outside the gates of the Old City, and tourists cover the quarters on foot. Bus lines travel to the Jaffa Gate, which leads to the Muslim Quarter, while a light rail station drops travellers off at City Hall, about 15 minutes or less to Jaffa Gate on foot or about five minutes by taxi.
Originally developed by Herod the Great, the Muslim Quarter has historical ties to the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Christian Crusaders. Many of the quarter’s buildings hearken to the Mameluke’s reconstruction of Jerusalem from the 13th to 16th centuries.