Mahane Yehuda (or Machane Yehuda) is Jerusalem‘s famous food market just off the Jaffa Road. Mahane Yehuda is a Jerusalem institution. Although traffic changes and a more urban lifestyle with supermarkets and corner shops have made a visit to the “shuk” (the market) less of a necessity; the devotees make a weekly pilgrimage to Mahane Yehuda. People come from far and wide in Israel to visit Mahane Yehuda; and to cater for them there are an increasing number of coffee and gift shops within Mahane Yehuda.
Mahane Yehuda was established during the 1880s on the north of Jaffa Road. It was founded by three business partners — a German Protestant and owner of the largest bank in the Palestine named Johannes Frutiger, a Jerusalem businessman named Joseph Navon, and Shalom Konstrum.
Mahane Yehuda is situated between Aggripas and Jaffa streets, with two chief aisles and then several smaller walkways once inside. Market tables are laden with blocks of colorful halva (dense sweet confections made of sesame paste or semolina flour), unbelievably large olives, colorful display of fruits and vegetables and almost everything that can be grown locally, as well as home wares, clothes, and other whatnots. During the evening, Mahane Yehuda converts itself into a “food park” where local and foreign foodies hang out.
This market is a maze with a multitude of sights, sounds, colors and smells that provide an intense and unforgettable sensory experience.
The market is about a ten-minute walk from the heart of Jerusalem. The market is an endlessly delightful and fascinating place to shop or stroll — whether you are just interested in seeing at the artful and colorful displays of the spices, sample and eat a mouthwatering array of foods, or just feel and absorb the market’s energetic and vigorous atmosphere. If you are a serious shopper though, you may want to get involved in real buying, haggling, sampling and tasting!
Being one of the of the oldest neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda is technically one of the many Nachlaot suburbs. These areas are being renovated, but retain their natural charm and are also popular places for tourists to wander. The many synagogues are very popular in the pre-dawn hours during the month immediately before Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) because of the custom of reciting extra prayers during this month.
Mahane Yehuda is open Sunday to Friday and is closed on Saturday (Shabbat). If you want a more less stressful trip to the market, avoid Thursdays and Friday mornings as people are filling their carts and trolleys with fruits, vegetables and other items as they are preparing for the Shabbat.
You can also join Mahane Yehuda group tours offered by local travels and tours firms for a more in-depth experience and a chance to sample the local delicacies sold throughout the market and also to take them home with you. Some operators also offer market tours combined with cooking workshops for those who are looking to gain new culinary skills.