When approaching the Machane Yehuda, you first see a small group of people standing at what looks like the entrance to a small covered street. As you get closer the sounds of voices and activity grows louder. Then you turn into the street, oh you're so brave, and you find yourself in a massive crush of people. Little elderly ladies pulling grocery carts that nip your toes if you don't watch it, children joyfully jostle you as they dash between adult legs. A man with curly sideburns cuts in front of you without a hint of a blinker. Old men meander at an unconsciously slow pace. All the while vendors and sellers shout out to you their best deal of the day, in Hebrew of course, to which I can only say, "Lo Ivrit, lo Ivrit" - "no Hebrew, no Hebrew".
And, I can't wait to get back!
Begun at the end of the 19th century, in an empty lot, local peasants saw the area as an opportunity to display their fresh produce and other goods for sale. It was a convenient spot near neighborhoods located outside the Old City. Conditions were pretty simple with no running water or sanitation available. But, over time, the Machane Yehuda, which now comprises the Iraqi and Georgian markets, grew from a hodge-podge of ramshackle buildings and stalls into the most exciting and popular marketplace in Israel, certainly Jerusalem.
The Machane Yehuda offers fresh and colorful vegetables, bright exotic fruits, nuts, teas, coffees, spices - oh the spices - and more are stacked high and spilling over. Fresh breads, challah, pastries still warm from the oven lure me in. Tall cakes of sweet and savory halvah march across a two-level counter just asking to be sliced and taken home
In other areas there are stalls full of fresh flowers, wine and spirits, fresh meats, fish, and chicken; cheeses and dried fruits; clothing and household goods; eggs and pickles.
There are also cafes and coffee shops scattered around and the whole place come alive at night sparkling with live music, art exhibitions, food and wine tastings.
Come early or stay late to get a glimpse of the famous graffiti and street art on the shop rolling doors, even take a graffiti tour to learn more about this unique art in the Shuk
Various in-depth tours are available, or check out the Machane Yehuda Bite Card for a generous sampling of tastes from vendors around the market.
The Shuk is located on about 10 intertwining streets mainly between Agrippa and Yafo Streets. If you're staying in the area, walking is convenient. There is also a train that runs between the Jaffa Gate at the Old City to the Machane Yehuda. Taxis are also available, as well as the bus system.
Download this map for an easy reference of the area http://en.machne.co.il/category/shuk-map
For great information go to the website http://en.machne.co.il/