Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital city, a claim that is not internationally recognised. But, there is no denying the fact that Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities of the world. The city has a tumultuous history having been destroyed twice and attacked multiple times but it continues to resurrect itself, its charm intact.
Jerusalem experiences extreme summers and winters. Summers are hot and dry and winters are cool and very wet with occasional snowfall. The mild temperatures and minimal rainfall during spring and fall make it the perfect time to explore the many sights that the city has to offer.
The city’s importance to three major religions – Christianity, Islam and Hebrew lends it a multi-cultural ambience like few others. The Old City encompasses minarets, spires, steeples and domes and its walls reverberate with prayer calls and church bells. The first century buildings stand alongside the twenty first century buildings in the Jerusalem skyline.
Alegra and Jebra stood before each other, hands and eyes clasped. They had fought their families, society and religious prejudices and had won. They stood, man and wife, in the courtyard of their dream house, the house that Jebra had built as a symbol of his love for his bride. Years passed, the lovers died but the symbol remained. Over time it became known in the village as ‘The House of the Jewish Girl or simply ‘Alegra’.
Now, refurbished into a boutique hotel, ‘Alegra’ continues to stand by its vow of true love. The hotel has seven suites each one dedicated to an epic love story. Be it Dante’s love for his muse Beatrice or the Spanish saga of EL Cid and Jimena or the love at first sight for Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot or even simply ‘The Poet’ who creates dreams of love with his words each suite pays homage to an epic love that broke boundaries.
Much of the old building has been retained in its original form and the materials used in its restoration have been chosen to complement the existing structure. Within the suites Eastern motifs and contemporary finish come together to add to the romantic setting and the luxurious amenities that ensure a pampered stay.
The half-acre ground around the cottage has been laid with a fragrant Mediterranean orchard. Nooks and crannies in the courtyard make for ideal spaces for spa treatments or romantic interludes. Cosy outdoor seating areas, a wading pool, a wet sauna, fish pools, small waterfalls and an open bar make the most of Alegra’s naturally stunning backdrop. The Hotel provides its main public spaces and suites to display contemporary art in a bid to support local artists.
It was from a rock in Jerusalem that Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven after journeying through the night from Mecca on his winged steed. In the 7th century this rock was enshrined by a domed structure called ‘The Dome of the Rock’. Its dome glistens in the sunshine amidst the beige architecture of Jerusalem’s old city. Vibrant blue Persian tiles stud the exterior walls of the octagonal structure. Over the centuries the shrine has borne assault by man and nature but has always been restored to resemble its original glory.
Can’t Stop Spinnin’ Around
A round column anchors the open plan bar-cum-kitchen of the Cafe Chakra. The ceiling radiates out of this column mimicking the energy that flows out from the bustling kitchen into the rest of the cafe. The seating too is orientated towards this point with varied seating options arranged in a concentric manner.
The furnishing does not follow a theme. It is a mixed bag of eclectic pieces sourced from flea markets that somehow syncs together in this space. The rounded window-pane facade effectively finishes up the theme of Cafe Chakra and allows the sights of the city to peek through into the cafe’s relaxed ambience.
All Things Design
Jerusalem’s Hutzot Hayotzer Arts and Crafts Fair started thirty seven years ago and over the years has turned into one of the city’s largest summer attractions. For one week in August local and international artists converge at the Sultan’s Pool just outside the walls of the Old City. Art, craft, food and cultures from all over the world are on display. The Fair provides the perfect opportunity to buy and sell art and rarely seen regional crafts.
Though in its nascent stage, the three year-old Jerusalem Design Week is also gaining in popularity. It is a platform to showcase the design developments originating within the city across a variety of disciplines.
Text By Himali Kothari