There are plenty of amazing things to see in the Old City of Jerusalem, but the real finds are the ones you would typically walk right on by and that don’t hog a big section of your guide book. And blink and you’ll miss the tiny entrance to the Wujoud Cultural Center and Museum, a tiny door that opens a real Jerusalem gem!
The Wujoud Center (Wujoud means “Existence” in Arabic) is a museum and cultural center showcasing the Christian presence in the Old City, and Palestinian life and history during the 19th and 20th centuries, and is located on your left as you start walking down David Street, the main market road you’ll come down after entering the Old City from Jaffa Gate. As we said, blink and you’ll miss it, because the entrance is small – see the photo below.
The Center itself was launched in 2009, and is set in a 650 year old building which is owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and donated to the Arab Orthodox Society (Hamilat Al-Tieb), Jerusalem. It’s one of those buildings that looks tiny upon first glance but opens up to a surprising amount of spacious rooms and hallways…
As you walk in through that tiny door, you’re first hit with a narrow corridor filled with quite stunning black and white photos. Then you walk into a room filed with some amazing furniture and artifacts, which in turn leads into a museum (formerly an Ottoman era coffee shop) full of some real treasures – and which is beautifully presented! Take a few minutes to browse the items here, there are some amazing little finds including traditional costumes, photos, books and utensils.
Then head upstairs to meet Nora Kort, the charismatic lady behind the Wujoud Center. She has some amazing knowledge of the area, and will wow you with tales of her struggles to set up this center – with local market vendors on the street below particularly nasty – as well as her other efforts in helping Palestinian women get a foothold in life. Very interesting and well worth your time meeting her! Nora will probably insist you also head to the roof for a birds-eye view of the neighborhood (see the photo below, which shows the rooftop view overlooking the now empty and dry Hezekiah’s Pool), something we always love doing in the Old City!
The Center also has a small cafeteria, offering traditional meals, light breakfasts, lunches and dinners which are prepared by Palestinian women.
Nora is very welcoming and an awesome host, but you must call in advance for a tour of the center. Visitors are welcome from Sunday-Thurs, 8:30-16:00. Admission is 10 shekels ($2.50). The Center also accepts group visits, and actually offers groups a more in-depth tour, including meals.
Don’t forget to sign the Guest Book!
For more information, call 02-6260916, or see the official site.