Mahane Yehuda Market more often referred to as “The Shuk” is a marketplace in Jerusalem, Israel. It is a must on any visit to Jerusalem and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
The market is a unique experience where world collide. In some ways it’s similar to a bazaar where you can find just about anything, in others to an open air food market that it once was, still in other’s it is where you can find trendy restaurants, cafes, and jewelry shops.
In the morning it is quite and where locals come to shop. By the evening stores close down and the nightlife wakes up.
In and around the market you can find incredible kosher street food falafel, shawarma, kibbeh, kebab, shashlik, kanafeh, baklava, halva, zalabiya and Jerusalem mixed grill stands, and pastries.
Check out: Israel Food Guide: 15 Foods to Eat in Israel
The color and bustle of the marketplace is sometimes accentuated by vendors who call out their prices to passersby.
On Thursday nights the shuk is filled with people in their 20’s and 30’s enjoying the lively night life while on Fridays it’s packed with with shoppers stocking up for Shabbat.
See the Machane Yehudah Market website for more ideas of what to do.
In 1887 the neighborhood of Mahane Yehuda was established on the north side of Jaffa Road. It was founded by three business partner and was named after one of partner’s brother, Yehuda.
On the south side of the street to the west stood another neighborhood, Beit Ya’akov, founded in 1885. A little later marketplace was established on an empty lot to the east of Beit Ya’akov and across the road from Mahane Yehuda. It became known as the Beit Ya’akov Market.
Here merchants sold their goods to the residents who lived outside the Old City. As the new neighborhoods outside the Old City grew the market grew along with it expanding haphazardly.
In the late 1920s, The first governor of Jerusalem under the British Mandate, Ronald Stores, saw how important the shuk was to Jerusalem’s unique atmosphere. In addition, he wanted to encourage the citizens of Jerusalem to support themselves financially.
However, the Govenor couldn’t bear the sight of the shuk, and so he appointed a city planner, Charles Robert Ashby, and an architect to create a formal design for the market. Ashby’s plan included desperately needed infrastructure, such as proper sewage and garbage disposal, lighting, and running water.
Origenally Oriental-style gates with arched domes were proposed, which matched well with other Mandate Period designs. However, Ashby’s design was not executed due to budget restrictions and the market continued to maintain its ramshackle appearance.
Then, the Etz Chaim Yeshiva showed, which was located in the midst of the market, took eniciative. They established a row of shops and collected the rent from the merchants to increase the income of the yeshiva.
In 1930, the merchants all came together, and, with the help of the city committee, they acquired a portion of land located south to HaAgas St. They established a new market here. Afterwards the market began to be known as the Mahane Yehuda Market.
A year after later, about 20 merchants and stand owners decided to build their own permanent shops a new and additional market was launched. Many of these merchants were immigrants from Iraq—and this area is still know as the Iraqi market.
Today it covers a large territory, stretching from the Etz Chaim Yeshiva to the Bet Yaakov and from Jaffa Street to Agrippas Street.
In the 2000’s, there was talk of tearing down the shuk and building a mall. This idea did not go over well among the locals who felt the shuk was the heart of the area.
Instead, major renovations were made to the Mahane Yehuda Market, including infrastructure work, repaving roads and covering some open areas.
Changes driven included renovations to the streets and alleyways, but also included efforts to draw in cafes and boutiques that would entice more middle-class customers. It worked, because today the shuk is filled with trendy shops and cafés.