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June 29, 2009June 29, 2009  0 comments  Historical Sites

The Armenian Quarter of the Old City is one of the most fascinating and often overlooked areas of the Old ity. Nestled between the Moslem quarter and the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian quarter is in fact a mini city onto itself and includes a vast compound of schools, stores, restaurants, seminaries, churches and monastaries, and residences all of which are located around the  and offices of the Armenian Patriarchate. Much of the area was once covered by the palace of Herod the Great. Travelujah had the great pleasure of touring the Armenian Quarter for the last 11 years.


Armenian Quarter


Armenia has a long and very rich history in the Holy Land. It was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion and  the 4th Century and Armenian pilgrims have been coming to visit Jerusalem since the 5th Century. Armenia has a long history of dispersion, persecution and exile but nevertheless, the community, with its own distinct culture and language, has survived and remained united. Two great saints, Isaac and Mesrob, are credited with creating an Armenian national identity. The focal point of the community is the Crusadar-era Cathedral of St James, dedicated to St James the Great, son of Zebedee who was executed by King Herod Agrippa 1. His head was severed and buried in the church. The church is generally open for visitation on Monday through Friday from 6-7 a.m., 3 - 3:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 - 9:30 a.m. However, during the summer months, the afternoon services take place at the Church of the Archangels.

Saint James

Within the Patriarchate compound lies three historical sites,  the Crusader-era St. James Cathedral  which commemorates the name of two Christian saints who died for their faith. One was the brother of Jesus and first bishop of Jerusalem; the other was the apostle James the Greater (the brother of the apostle John). He was killed by Herod Antipas and his head was severed and buried in the church.The second historical site is the Church of the Holy Arch Angels - which is the site of the home of the High Priest Annais who tried Jesus. Nearby there is an ancient olive tree within the courtyard that is believed to enable barren women to become fertile by swallowing an olive from this tree. The third site is by the Zion Gate, St. Saviors Monastary and it is the historical site of the  home of the high priest Caipphus and the burial place of patriarchs.

House of Caiaphus

If you are interested in learning more about the Armenian community, Travelujah is pleased to arrange special meetings and tours for our groups with representatives or seminarians of the Armenian Patriarchate. To contact the Armenian Patriarchate -please call 972-02-6282331  


Other worthwhile stops within the Armenian quarter include:

Sandrouni Workshop -Armenian Pottery - Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate Road

Bulghourji Armenian Restaurant and Garden- Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate Road

C. Mardigan Museum

Convent of the Olive Tree

Christchurch Guest House

Calouste Gulberkia Library

St. Thomas

St Mark

St James the Cut Up




February 26, 2010February 26, 2010  0 comments  Historical Sites


The New York-based World Monuments Fund (WMF) has placed the Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City on its 2010 watch list of 93 cultural heritage sites at risk in 47 countries. The list, which is the WMF's flagship advocacy program, is intended to call international attention to threatened landmarks. The 2010 Watch ranges from famous sites like Machu Picchu, Peru to the unexpected like the Merritt Parkway, Connecticut. The Old City of Lod is the second Israeli site on the newly-released list.


"The 2010 Watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship, and that we must work closely with local partners to create viable and appropriate opportunities to advance this," said WMF president Bonnie Burnham in a press release. "The sites on the 2010 Watch list make a dramatic case for the need to bring together a variety of sectors -economic, environmental, heritage preservation, and social - when we are making plans that will affect us all. Greater cooperation among these sectors would benefit humanity today, while ensuring our place as stewards of the Earth for the next generation."


"The World Monuments Watch has evolved since its inception 14 years ago," added Erica Avrami, the WMF's research and education director. "With a greater number of urban centers and cultural landscapes, this year's watch reflects a growing understanding that heritage cannot be preserved in isolation, but rather must be addressed as part of a broad physical and social context. Not all sites on the watch list are in imminent danger. Many face challenges on the horizon, providing the opportunity to engage in dialogue and decision making now, so as to avoid problems in the future. Heritage conservation can be an effective tool for community development, economic growth, and sustainable land use."



St. James, also known in French as St. Jacques and as Saint Jacob Armenian Cathedral, is the seat of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The landmark incorporates the traditional site of the tombs of Jesus' brother James, known as St. James the Minor, who was the first bishop of Jerusalem. According to Catholic tradition, St. James the Greater (one of Jesus' 12 Apostles) - who was executed in the first century by King Herod Agrippa I - is buried at the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. Armenians however believe the Apostle's head is entombed at the Jerusalem cathedral that bears his name.


Built on the remains of a 5th-century Georgian church, St. James' present structure is one of the few remaining Crusader cathedrals to have survived almost intact. Most of the current interior decoration dates from the renovation carried out by Patriarch Gregory the Chainbearer (1715-1749). St. James is the focus of the Armenian community's annual Easter panoply, including a festive parade through the street of the Old City led by the traditional boy scouts marching band. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzzaXa3eNqg.



As early as 1195, St. James served as a refuge for the Armenian poor when a large hospice was attached to the church. Local Armenian merchants worked to beautify and enlarge the monastery through the centuries. This close relationship between the cathedral and the Armenian community was further solidified in the 17th century, when the cathedral was designated the seat of the Armenian Patriarchate, around which Jerusalem's Armenian Compound was established. Building activities intensified after the 1840s, and by the end of the 19th century the cathedral was reputed for its architectural ornament and its collection of jeweled vestments and manuscripts. After the Ottoman genocide of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during World War I and Soviet dominance of Armenia, St. James became a spiritual and cultural center of great importance for the Armenian diaspora.


The 1,500 people dwelling today in the Armenian Compound adjoining St. James Cathedral are the descendants of the survivors of the Turkish genocide of 1915.


By placing St. James on its watch list, the WMF hopes to draw attention to the structural problems and deterioration of the cathedral's elaborate interiors. Conservation and long-term management are sought to preserve the building, and to facilitate visitation and religious pilgrimage to the site.


Launched in 1996 and issued every two years, the WMF watch list is assembled by an international panel of experts in archaeology, architecture, art history and preservation. Nearly half the 630 sites featured on the watch lists have received WMF support totalling $50-million. Those WMF funds in turn leveraged an additional $150-million in assistance from other sources.


Israeli sites on the seven previous WMF watch lists include: Apollonia-Arsuf, Herzliya (2004); Beit She'arim, Kiryat Tivon (2002); the Templer Gemeindehaus, Haifa (1998, 1996); the White Mosque, Ramla, (2000, 1998); the Canaanite Gate, Tel Dan (2000); and the White City, Tel Aviv (1996).


The WMF watch list is not to be confused with UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, which includes six monuments in Israel: the Biblical tels of Hazor, Megiddo and Beer Sheva, the Nabatean Spice Route including Haluza, Mamshit and Shivta; Masada; Crusader Acre; Bauhaus Tel Aviv; and the Baha'i Holy Places in Acre and Haifa. As well, in 1982, the Old City of Jerusalem was put on UNESCO's list of World Heritages Sites in danger.


Gil Zohar is tour guide and a freelance writer for http://www.travelujah.com; the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. The site offers unique travel tours, expert content, a vibrant social community providing travel advice to people interested in learning about or traveling to the Holy Land.




June 7, 2013June 7, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies


When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. […] Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit […]” (Acts 2:1-4)


According to Jewish tradition, feast of Pentecost (Shavout) commemorates the day in which Moses received the Law of the Lord God on the Mount Sinai. Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover.


2 millennia years ago, on a day of Pentecost celebration, all the believers in Christ gathered together in one place in Jerusalem. At once, they heard some strange noise which came from the sky and was similar to blowing of a strong wind. Then all of the sudden, the Holy Spirit in a shape of fire tongues touched disciple’s heads and filled them. That enabled the believers to speak in many different languages.


Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732 Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732


It was the time in which those words of Christ has been fulfilled: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) The beginning for the Church was marked by that first baptism of the Spirit.


After that, many people, and among them religious Jews who came to Jerusalem from all over the world, heard the disciples speaking in their languages. Most of the gathered ones were amazed by the miracle, but there were also some who disbelieved. So apostle Peter, explained to them that the things they have just seen were foretold by prophet Joel: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message. […] (Joel 2:28-32)


On that day, also many of the gathered people believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ the Messiah and joined the Church.


Where did it happen?


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


The tradition states that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Cenacle or the Upper Room, which was the same spot where Jesus and his apostles held the Last Supper.


The church of the Cenacle is located on the Mount Zion, today just outside of the Zion Gate, but in the times of Christ, this area was included in the city walls.


This spot is believed to be the place where the very first congregations of early Christians took place. The foundations of the chapel might date even earlier than to the 3rd century AD. Thus many scholars refer to it as to the ‘little church of God’, which Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403) described in his writings based on scripts from the 2nd century. Epiphanus in his documents mentioned that when Hadrian in 135 established Aelia Capitolina, the part of Jerusalem where the Cenacle stood was not much destructed.


To learn more about the Cenacle read:




 Christian Feast of Pentecost


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


Christians celebrate Pentecost (the fiftieth) 50 days, or more specifically 7 weeks, after the Easter Sunday. It is a movable feast as the Easter is. This year the Western Churches will celebrate it on the 19th of May 2013 and Eastern Churches will celebrate it on the 23rd of June 2013. The difference in the date is caused by using of different liturgical calendars.


Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem


Join the Holy Land’s Christians in Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem on Sunday the 19th of May 2013. There will be a Solemn Mass celebrated by the Patriarch, H.B. Msgr. Fuad Twal in the Church of the Dormition Abbey at 10 am. And in the evening, at 4 pm, the believers will gather in the Cenacle for Vespers presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land.


If you go:


Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room


The Upper Room is located just outside of the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.


Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Tel.:  02 671-3597

Visit as well:



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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.




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