German Colony, Jerusalem
The German Colony ( המושבה הגרמנית , HaMoshava HaGermanit) is a neighborhood in Jerusalem, established in the second half of the 19th century by members of the German Temple Society. Today the Moshava, as it is popularly known, is an upscale neighborhood bisected by Emek Refaim Street, an avenue lined with trendy shops, restaurants and cafes.
Biblical eraEmek Refaim (Valley of Refaim) is mentioned in the Book of Joshua and in the Second Book of Samuel. The name is derived from a legendary race of giants who lived in this region in biblical times.
Templer settlementIn 1873, after establishing colonies in Haifa and Jaffa, members of the Templer sect from Württemberg, Germany, settled on a large tract of land in the Refaim Valley, southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. The land was purchased by one of the colonists, Matthäus Frank, from the Arabs of Beit Safafa. The Templers were Christians who broke away from the Protestant church and encouraged their members to settle in the Holy Land to prepare for Messianic salvation. They built their homes in the style to which they were accustomed in Germany - farmhouses of one or two stories, with slanting tiled roofs and shuttered windows, but using local materials such as Jerusalem stone instead of wood and bricks. The colonists engaged in agriculture and traditional trades such as carpentry and blacksmithing. Their homes ran along two parallel streets that would become Emek Refaim and Bethlehem Road. The British Mandatory government deported the German Templers during World War II. As Germans, they were considered enemy citizens. Some of them resettled in Australia.
Christian Arab settlementAs the neighborhood expanded south along the valley, many of the lots were purchased by well-to-do Christian Arab families attracted by its location between the road to Bethlehem and the developing neighborhoods of Katamon, Talbiya, and Baka, which were populated by some of Jerusalem's wealthiest Arabs.
One of the most famous Christian families in Hebron (Khalil) is Abu Gharbieh, which helped to improve the foundations of the city.
State of IsraelThe Arab residents of Katamon fled in 1948, in the wake of fierce battles for control of the area during the Arab–Israeli War. The abandoned homes in the German Colony and other parts of Katamon were used to house new immigrants. Since the end of the 20th century, the neighborhood has undergone a process of gentrification. Efforts are being made to restore old landmark buildings and incorporate some of their architectural features, such as arched windows and tiled roofs, in new construction. Numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques have opened in the neighborhood, and many affluent families have moved there, pushing up the price of real estate. The German Colony has a large English-speaking population, with the English speaking community comprising both families and singles, permanent immigrants and visitors. The neighborhood is home to the Smadar Theater, Jerusalem's arthouse cinema and a perennial gathering place for the artisterati.
During the Second Intifada, in September 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside Café Hillel on Emek Refaim Street, killing seven people. In February 2004, another suicide bombing took place on bus #14a as it was leaving the neighborhood northwards. Eight were killed. A small stone monument was erected on top of the fence of the old train station, facing the location of the attack. It is visible from the main northern entrance to the German Colony, across from Liberty Bell Park.