The Christian Quarter occupies the northwest quadrant of the Old City. It is home to several dozen Christian institutions ranging from churches and monasteries to schools, clinics, printing presses and pilgrims hostels belonging to numerous denominations. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher lies on its eastern edge with several of the stations not directly on the Via Dolorosa. See Christian Quarter Photo Album.
Beyond its ecclesiastical and institutional side, the quarter also has a residential and commercial. Its residents are a combination Arab Christians and foreign clerics. Many of the neighborhoods buildings were constructed in the 19th century, but the Christian presence in the quarter dates back to the early Arab Period when Muslim rulers guaranteed the protection of Christians in the areas immediately adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Exploring the Christian Quarter is a multicultural experience that reveals the diversity mosaic of Christendom through costume, smells of incense, light, sounds and color, which present the visitor with constantly changing ethnic scenery. The quarter is most easily entered from the Jaffa Gate (turn left up any street after passing through the gate) or proceed straight through the marketplace on David St and then turn on Christian Quarter Rd. or at the Muristan. The New Gate on the north side of the Old City leads directly into the quarter.
It is possible to visit most of the churches in the quarter. Spending time shifting between the Latin, Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, and Ethiopian Patriarchates, along with the Maronite (don’t miss the view from its roof) and Syrian Churches in the Armenian Quarter nearby affords the visitor with a remarkably diverse view of the Christian world within a very small geographic area. Round out the experience by peeking inside the German built Lutheran Redeemer Church on Muristan St.
Experiencing the diversity of Jerusalem’s Christian community can be further enriched by standing near the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at 13:00, when different denominations perform an incense waiving ritual or by visiting the Armenian Cathedral of St. James between 15:00 – 15:30 to observe the prayers and procession. Pink limestone signs with Greek inscriptions over entryways, often lead to residential courtyards, which also house tiny little churches and monasteries. If you’re not shy, duck inside, you may find a whitewashed compound that looks like a little island of Greece in Jerusalem.
See also this gallery of a recent street event – Jerusalem Knights.