The Aftimos Market in the Christian Quarter

Tour Jerusalem: The Greek Orthodox Aftimos Market is a modern commercial district built in the early 20th century

The Greek Orthodox Aftimos Market is a modern commercial district built in the early 20th century. On the gate leading to the market you can see the “taphos” – the symbol of the Greek Orthodox order of the Holy Sepulcher, which also appears on the fountain in the center of the market.

The Aftimos Market is bounded on the east by Muristan Street, the Street of the Christians on the west, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the north and to the south is David Street, the street by which we entered the Old City. In ancient times this entire area held the Roman forum – a large square that was used, among other things, for commerce.

During the Crusader Period the Knights of St. John the Baptist resided here, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John. The Hospitallers established two churches here as well as a large infirmary that served Christian pilgrims.

The source of the name “Muristan” is also related to the Crusader order, apparently a corruption of the Persian word Bimaristan, meaning “hospital.” Over time the area was abandoned and became filled with ruins of buildings and trash.

Only at the end of the 19th century did construction begin again here, with the establishment of the German Church of the Redeemer. Afterwards, the remaining land was sold to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which in 1903 built a tourist bazaar. The project was inspired by the Greek Orthodox sacristan, Aftimos, and it is for him the market is named.

At the center of the market is a splendid fountain that was constructed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abed al-Hamid II. The fountain was recently refurbished after being idle for many years, and alongside we can see two water troughs that provided water to those visiting the area. The Aftimos Market now houses cafés and shops.

There are several exits from the market heading west, all of which lead to the Christian Quarter Road.