Armenians in Jerusalem keep traditions alive
Although the city’s Armenian community has faced pressure, residents are determined to preserve their unique presence.
As the world marks the 1915 mass killings of Armenians amid international debate over whether the events constituted a “genocide”, Armenians in Jerusalem remain one of the city’s least visited communities.
Tourist maps of the Old City of Jerusalem are divided into four quarters: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian. The divisions are a relatively recent innovation, originating in the 19th century. Armenians generally consider their community to be part of the Christian Quarter and have resisted attempts to divide them politically, including proposals to include the Armenian and Jewish Quarters on the Israeli side of a divided Jerusalem in final status agreements.
But while the Muslim, Jewish and Christian Quarters draw hordes of tourists to world-famous landmarks like the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Armenian Quarter’s most prominent site, St James Cathedral, is open only during short periods for worship services.