Theme Week West Jerusalem – The Mamilla Mall

Monday, 5 November 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Shopping, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  8 minutes

© flickr.com - Ana Paula Hirama/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Ana Paula Hirama/cc-by-sa-2.0

Mamilla Mall, also known as Alrov Mamilla Avenue, is an upscale shopping street and the only open-air mall in West Jerusalem. Located northwest of Jaffa Gate, directely at the City Line, the border between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, which has survived to this day due to the repeatedly annulled Jerusalem Law by the UN and part of the wider Green Line, the mall consists of a 2,000-foot (610 m) pedestrian promenade called Alrov Mamilla Avenue lined by 140 stores, restaurants, and cafes, and office space on upper floors. The mall sits atop a multi-story parking garage for 1,600 cars and buses, and a bus terminal. Designed by Moshe Safdie and developed by Alrov Properties and Lodgings Ltd. of Tel Aviv, the mall incorporates the facades of 19th-century buildings from the original Mamilla Street, as well as the original structures of the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, the Stern House, and the Clark House.

The mall is part of the Alrov Mamilla Quarter, a $400 million mixed-use development that also includes the 28-acre (11 ha) David’s Village luxury condominium project, the David Citadel Hotel, the Mamilla Hotel, and the Karta parking lot. While the overall project was approved by the municipality in the early 1970s, and most of the condominiums and the David Citadel Hotel were completed in the 1990s, construction of the mall was delayed time and again; first due to opposition by preservationist, environmentalist, and religious groups, and then due to bureaucratic disputes, litigation, and arbitration. The mall was finally completed and opened in stages from 2007 to 2008, thirty-seven years after its initial proposal.

Mamilla Mall contains 300,000 square feet (28,000 m²) of retail space. Its 140 stores appeal to all economic strata, from high-end international chains Tommy Hilfiger and Abercrombie & Fitch; to Israeli designer boutiques such as Castro, Dorin Frankfurt, and Ronen Chen; to mid-range restaurants and a “supermarket-style” pharmacy. There are numerous chain stores selling fashions and cosmetics, as well as gift and souvenir stores. The Gap store, which opened in the mall in August 2009, is the chain’s first store in Israel. Among the cafes are branches of Café Rimon, Aroma Espresso Bar, and Spaghettim. Due to the diversity of retail establishments, the mall attracts a wide cross-section of Israeli residents and tourists. These include secular and religious Jews, Christians, Muslims, Armenian monks, young couples, families, and students. At the height of the summer and tourist seasons in July and August, an estimated 20,000 people visit the mall daily.

To appeal to its broad consumer base, the Alrov Group presents changing exhibits of sculpture and art along the promenade. All the pieces are by local artists, and most are for sale. During the summer and Jewish holidays, the mall hosts free concerts, street performances, folk dancing, and family activities. During Hanukkah, a Chabad candle-lighting ceremony takes place here nightly. The mall has become a popular site for flash mobs, including those staged by nonprofit organizations to raise awareness for their activities.

Stern House © Adiel lo/cc-by-sa-3.0 Old City Walls and Mamillla Avenue © Navot Miller/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Ricardo Tulio Gandelman/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Kyle Taylor/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Jorge Láscar/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Ana Paula Hirama/cc-by-sa-2.0 Mamilla Mall during Hanukkah © Djampa/cc-by-sa-4.0 Mamilla Mall and Old City Walls © Shaofr/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Ana Paula Hirama/cc-by-sa-2.0 © JRodSilva/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Old City Walls and Mamillla Avenue © Navot Miller/cc-by-sa-3.0
Mamilla Mall, along with the other components of the Alrov Mamilla Quarter, was designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. With an eye to the historical and archaeological importance of the area, Safdie opted to blend the mall into its surroundings rather than introduce a contemporary design. To that end, he chose materials and construction styles similar to those of the historic Mamilla neighborhood – namely, masonry-block construction and a predominance of arches. Facades removed from 19th-century buildings on the original Mamilla Street were placed on new construction in the mall. Several historic buildings were integrated into the mall design. These are:

  • Clark House, an 1898 structure built by American evangelists living in Jerusalem. The building stands on its original site and was renovated by the architectural firm.
  • Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, operated by the Daughters of Charity, an order of French nuns. Housing an orphanage, old-age home, and a shelter for mentally and physically handicapped people, it was the first structure to be erected on Mamilla Street, in 1886. It, too, occupies its original site.
  • Stern House, a private home in which Zionist leader Theodor Herzl had lodged overnight during his 1898 visit to Jerusalem. The house had become a Zionist shrine, with the room in which Herzl slept given over to photos and memorabilia from Herzl’s life. Though the house had been heavily damaged in the 1948 war, preservationists won a suit in the Israel Supreme Court to save it from demolition. The two-story masonry-block house, originally located at 18 Mamilla Street, was dismantled brick by brick and warehoused for ten years until builders were ready to reassemble it on Alrov Mamilla Avenue. Safdie left the colored numbers on the brick facades of this and other preserved houses to emphasize the preservation nature of the work. The Stern House presently houses a restaurant, bar, and Steimatzky bookstore.
  • Seven additional 19th-century buildings were dismantled, warehoused, and reconstructed along the promenade.

The buildings along Alrov Mamilla Avenue are spaced irregularly rather than placed in a continuous line. The open areas between the buildings accommodate different types of public areas, while the spaces themselves afford views of the historic landmarks beyond the avenue, such as the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate. The buildings lining the avenue range in height from three to six stories, with the higher stories set back from the street line. There is also a two-story, domed atrium housing shops and restaurants. The mall sits atop a six-story parking garage with space for 1,600 cars and 60 buses. From the outside, the over-ground structure appears as a series of tiered terraces overflowing with greenery. Skylights built into the terraces admit natural light to each parking level. Outside the entrances to the parking garage stand terminals for city buses. At its southern end, the promenade opens onto a small, multi-tiered, landscaped park facing Jaffa Gate.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem, itraveljerusalem.com – Mamilla Mall and Wikipedia Mamilla Mall (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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