Muslim Quarter (Jerusalem)

Coordinates: 31°46′51″N 35°13′57″E / 31.78083°N 35.23250°E / 31.78083; 35.23250
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Cotton market, reconstructed in 1336 by the Mamluk ruler Emir Tankiz, governor of Damascus

The Muslim Quarter (Arabic: حارة المسلمين Ḥāraṫ al-Muslimīn; Hebrew: הרובע המוסלמי Ha-Rovah ha-Muslemi) is one of the four sectors of the ancient, walled Old City of Jerusalem. It covers 31 hectares (77 acres) of the northeastern sector of the Old City.[1] The quarter is the largest and most populous of the four quarters and extends from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in the south, to the Damascus GateWestern Wall route in the west. The Via Dolorosa starts in this quarter.[2]

Map of the Muslim Quarter

The population of the Muslim Quarter is 22,000.[2]


The convention of a "Muslim Quarter", in what was then a Muslim-majority city, may have originated in its current form in the 1841 British Royal Engineers map of Jerusalem,[3] or at least Reverend George Williams' subsequent labelling of it.[4] The city had previously been divided into many more harat (Arabic: حارَة, romanizedHārat: "quarters", "neighborhoods", "districts" or "areas", see wikt:حارة).[5] The city had previously been considered in sections relating to a much wider range of medieval groups. From the mid-19th century onwards, with the influx of Jewish immigrants, the areas of the city inhabited by Muslims began to decrease.[6]

The table below shows the evolution of the area today known as the "Muslim Quarter", from 1495 up until the modern system:[7]

Local divisions Western divisions
Date 1495 1500s 1800s 1900 1840s onwards
Source Mujir al-Din Ottoman Census Traditional system Ottoman Census Modern maps
Quarters Ghuriyya (Turiyya) Bab el-Asbat Muslim Quarter (north) North-east
Bab Hutta Bab Hutta Bab Hutta Bab Hutta
Bani Zayd Bani Zayd Sa'diyya Sa'diyya North-west
Bab el-'Amud Bab el-'Amud Bab el-'Amud Bab el-'Amud
Bani Murra
Marzaban Bab el-Qattanin Bab es-Silsila Wad Muslim Quarter (south) South
Aqabet es-Sitta Wad
'Aqabet et-Takiya


The Muslim quarter had a mixed population of Jews, Muslims and Christians until the 1929 Palestine riots.[8] Some 60 Jewish families now live in the Muslim Quarter.[9] Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim is the largest yeshiva.[10]

In 2007, the Israeli government started funding the construction of The Flowers Gate development plan, the first Jewish settlement inside the Muslim Quarter since 1967. It would include 20 apartments and a synagogue.[11] According to the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Israel has installed up to 500 closed-circuit cameras in the three non-Jewish quarters (Muslim, Christian and Armenian).[12]


Jewish landmarks include the Kotel Katan or Little Western Wall, and the Western Wall Tunnels, which run below the neighborhood along the Western Wall. There are many Roman and Crusader remains in the quarter. The first seven Stations of the Cross on Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) are located there.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Holy Land, pg. 29.(This area excludes the Temple Mount which measures 35 acres)
  2. ^ a b Muslim Quarter of the "Old City" section of Jerusalem Archived 2012-12-20 at
  3. ^ Teller, Matthew (2022). Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City. Profile Books. p. Chapter 1. ISBN 978-1-78283-904-0. Retrieved 2023-05-30. What wasn't corrected, though - and what, in retrospect, should have raised much more controversy than it did (it seems to have passed completely unremarked for the last 170-odd years) - was [Aldrich and Symonds's] map's labelling. Because here, newly arcing across the familiar quadrilateral of Jerusalem, are four double labels in bold capitals. At top left Haret En-Nassara and, beneath it, Christian Quarter; at bottom left Haret El-Arman and Armenian Quarter; at bottom centre Haret El-Yehud and Jews' Quarter; and at top right - the big innovation, covering perhaps half the city - Haret El-Muslimin and Mohammedan Quarter. No map had shown this before. Every map has shown it since. The idea, in 1841, of a Mohammedan (that is, Muslim) quarter of Jerusalem is bizarre. It's like a Catholic quarter of Rome. A Hindu quarter of Delhi. Nobody living there would conceive of the city in such a way. At that time, and for centuries before and decades after, Jerusalem was, if the term means anything at all, a Muslim city. Many people identified in other ways, but large numbers of Jerusalemites were Muslim and they lived all over the city. A Muslim quarter could only have been dreamt up by outsiders, searching for a handle on a place they barely understood, intent on asserting their own legitimacy among a hostile population, seeing what they wanted to see. Its only purpose could be to draw attention to what it excludes.
  4. ^ Teller, Matthew (2022). Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City. Profile Books. p. Chapter 1. ISBN 978-1-78283-904-0. Retrieved 2023-05-30. But it may not have been Aldrich and Symonds. Below the frame of their map, printed in italic script, a single line notes that 'The Writing' had been added by 'the Revd. G. Williams' and 'the Revd. Robert Willis'… Some sources suggest [Williams] arrived before [Michael] Alexander, in 1841. If so, did he meet Aldrich and Symonds? We don't know. But Williams became their champion, defending them when the Haram inaccuracy came up and then publishing their work. The survey the two Royal Engineers did was not intended for commercial release (Aldrich had originally been sent to Syria under 'secret service'), and it was several years before their military plan of Jerusalem came to public attention, published first in 1845 by their senior officer Alderson in plain form, without most of the detail and labelling, and then in full in 1849, in the second edition of Williams's book The Holy City. Did Aldrich and/or Symonds invent the idea of four quarters in Jerusalem? It's possible, but they were military surveyors, not scholars. It seems more likely they spent their very short stay producing a usable street-plan for their superior officers, without necessarily getting wrapped up in details of names and places. The 1845 publication, shorn of street names, quarter labels and other detail, suggests that… Compounding his anachronisms, and perhaps with an urge to reproduce Roman urban design in this new context, Williams writes how two main streets, north-south and east-west, 'divide Jerusalem into four quarters.' Then the crucial line: 'The subdivisions of the streets and quarters are numerous, but unimportant.' Historians will, I hope, be able to delve more deeply into Williams's work, but for me, this is evidence enough. For almost two hundred years, virtually the entire world has accepted the ill-informed, dismissive judgementalism of a jejune Old Etonian missionary as representing enduring fact about the social make-up of Jerusalem. It's shameful… With Britain's increased standing in Palestine after 1840, and the growth of interest in biblical archaeology that was to become an obsession a few decades later, it was vital for the Protestant missionaries to establish boundaries in Jerusalem… Williams spread his ideas around. Ernst Gustav Schultz, who came to Jerusalem in 1842 as Prussian vice-consul, writes in his 1845 book Jerusalem: Eine Vorlesung ('A Lecture'): 'It is with sincere gratitude I must mention that, on my arrival in Jerusalem, Mr Williams ... willingly alerted me to the important information that he [and] another young Anglican clergyman, Mr Rolands, had discovered about the topography of [Jerusalem].' Later come the lines: 'Let us now divide the city into quarters,' and, after mentioning Jews and Christians, 'All the rest of the city is the Mohammedan Quarter.' Included was a map, drawn by Heinrich Kiepert, that labelled the four quarters, mirroring Williams's treatment in The Holy City.
  5. ^ Arnon, Adar (1992). "The Quarters of Jerusalem in the Ottoman Period". Middle Eastern Studies. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 28 (1): 5–7. ISSN 0026-3206. JSTOR 4283477. Retrieved 2023-05-31. The origin of this ethno-religious partition lies in the nineteenth-century modern survey maps of Jerusalem drawn by Europeans - travellers, army officers, architects - who explored the city. The following verbal geographical definitions of the quarters will refer to this contemporarily prevailing division of the Old City. The ethno-religious partition of the Old City on the nineteenth-century maps reflected a situation rooted in history. Crusader Jerusalem of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the capital of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, was partitioned among the residential territories of people from different European countries, Oriental Christian communities and knights orders. In 1244 Jerusalem returned to Moslem hands when it became part of the Ayyubid Sultanate of Egypt. The change of government coincided with a devastation of the city by the Central Asian tribe of Khawarizm which all but annihilated the city's population. In 1250 the Mamluks rose to power in Egypt. Under their rule Jerusalem became a magnet to pilgrims from all parts of the Islamic world. People from various regions, towns and tribes settled in it. The parts of the city preferred by the Moslems were those adjoining the north and west sides of the Temple Mount (the other two sides lay outside the city) on which stood their two revered mosques, the Dome of the Rock and al-Agsa Mosque. Christians from different denominations resettled in the north-west of the city, at the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Armenians settled in its south-west, near their Cathedral of St James which had been destroyd by the Khawarizms. Jews settled in Jerusalem, beginning with the second half of the thirteenth century, near the south wall of the city, because the territory there was not settled by any other community and separated from their venerated place, the West (Wailing) Wall, only by a small quarter of North-African Moslems. When the city changed hands again at the beginning of the sixteenth century, falling to the Ottoman Turks, no change in the city's population, and hence in its quarters occurred.
  6. ^ Arnon, Adar (1992). "The Quarters of Jerusalem in the Ottoman Period". Middle Eastern Studies. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 28 (1): 17. ISSN 0026-3206. JSTOR 4283477. Retrieved 2023-05-31. The uniformity of the area inhabited by Moslems in the north of the city brought about, in the long run, the swallowing of the medieval-group-named quarters by the neighboring quarters called after sites. The great increase in Jewish population in modern times at the south of the city produced, on the other hand, a process in an opposite direction - a population-named quarter - Haret el-Yahud - extended to a quarter called after a site - Haret esh-Sharaf, populated in the Middle Ages by both Jews and Moslems. But unlike populations and their quarters which disappeared altogether from the city's scenery, 'Sharaf', since it was a name of a site, survived as the name of the street round which the quarter had developed. Hart el-Yahud expanded also to medieval quarters named after ethnic groups like Risha and Saltin. Other indications in quarter names of population changes between medieval and modern times were all unreal. These were the cases of Bani Zayd replaced by Sadiyya, Zara'na by Haddadin and part of Nasara by Mawarna. To complement the variations of quarter changes there were also modern quarters called after sites which partially replaced medieval site-named quarters - see Wad and Bab es-Silsila quarters before.
  7. ^ Arnon, Adar (1992). "The Quarters of Jerusalem in the Ottoman Period". Middle Eastern Studies. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 28 (1): 25–26. ISSN 0026-3206. JSTOR 4283477. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  8. ^ "Israel cements ownership of Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City". Haaretz. 11 March 2008.
  9. ^
  10. ^ The Yeshiva's History Archived 2015-12-09 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 18 September 2014
  11. ^ Wilson, Scott (11 February 2007). "Jewish Inroads in Muslim Quarter". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ "PASSIA - MAPS - Jerusalem - SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY IN THE OLD CITY". Retrieved 2022-07-13.
  13. ^ Jerusalem - The Old City

External links[edit]

Media related to Muslim Quarter, Jerusalem at Wikimedia Commons

31°46′51″N 35°13′57″E / 31.78083°N 35.23250°E / 31.78083; 35.23250