20 July, 2016
Jerusalem is a fascinating place. Strolling through its Old City – the cradle of Jewish, Christian and Muslim culture – is like walking across a set in some Hollywood blockbuster directed by Cecile B. Demille. This enclave breathes history in every stone holding up its temples and other buildings although, when it comes to travels, the capital of Israel has long been classed as a religious destination. Indeed, any pilgrimage to the Holy Land should include a fascinating tour of the city’s catacombs. In the following we reveal the most interesting spots in an alternative Jerusalem, pinpointing the bars and clubs in the renovated Mahane Yehuda market.
A meeting point for the city’s literary community, Adraba Books is Jerusalem’s bookstore for anyone seeking stories that go beyond official accounts. Over and above its café – worth commending in a country which does not stand out for its espressos, macchiatos and cappuccinos – it is noteworthy for its section of art volumes and its stock of titles in foreign languages, particularly English. Sderot Ben Maimon 5
Casino De Paris
Located in the heart of Mahane Yehuda – a refurbished market filled with colourful food stalls by day, many of which become bars and clubs with live music by night – stands the Casino de Paris, formerly one of the most popular clubs among British officers stationed in Jerusalem during the nineteen twenties. A century later it is now reliving its days of glory, and can count among its die-hards a large, motley crew of night revellers. The revival is largely the brainchild of Sha’anan Streett, the vocalist of Hadag Nahash, one of Israel’s most widely acclaimed hip-hop bands, and Eli Mizrahi, the owner of the nearby Machneyuda, possibly the best restaurant in the city. 3 Mahane Yehuda Street
Next door to a fast-food eatery, Gatsby is half-concealed behind a drab black steel gate, lacking any sign that might denote its presence. Despite its brief history (it opened just over a year ago), it is actually Jerusalem’s first cocktail lounge to re-create the ambience of an American speakeasy from the Prohibition era. It is stunning to see their barwoman wielding the cocktail shaker. As in other locales of this kind, you can only gain access if you know the secret code of the day, or else pretend to be a strayguiri– it worked with me. 18 Hillel Street
Lev Smadar opened in 1921 and is one of the most emblematic cinemas in Jerusalem. Hidden in an alleyway in the German quarter, it is honestly more difficult to find than Wally without his striped shirt. It features American, European and Israeli independent cinema and is frequented by the city’s arty crowd. All the movies are screened in their original version and local films are in Hebrew with English subtitles. 4 Lloyd George Street
Razzouk Tattoo Studio
Lost among the winding streets skirting the Jaffa Gate lies Razzouk Tattoo, the first and only tattoo parlour in Jerusalem’s Old City. Like almost everything here, the story of Razzouk Tattoo is fascinating. The Razzouks, a family of Egyptian origin, have been tattooing since the 14th century. In those times Copts would have a small cross etched on the inside of their wrist to gain entry to churches. After settling in Jerusalem, the grandfather, Yacoub Razzouk, opened his studio in the mid-20th century. The family tradition is now furthered by his grandson, Wassim Razzouk. 31 St. George Street
This club is ideal for dropping in on the night scene on weekdays. It has been operating for the last ten years and is one of the favourite sanctuaries of DJs involved in Israel’s electronic underground. It is also a place to feed on vinyls, graphic novels and other Israeli counter-culture publicity. It is also one of the few clubs in town where you can quaff on a pint of Taybeh, a Palestinian beer which is up there with the best German or Belgian barley beverages. 4 Aristobolos Street
This is the only openly gay bar in Jerusalem and a winner if you want to have a memorable night in the city. If you strike it lucky, you will happen upon one of their popular thematic parties from the 80s and 90s, soirées where the punchiest hits from those two decades will sound out one after the other. And, if you get too heavily involved in the revelry, don’t be surprised if you get carried off by one of the drag queens, who will lead you onto the dance floor. You’ve been warned! 1 Horkanus Street
Open since 1991, the Yellow Submarine is Jerusalem’s most emblematic concert hall, the venue where both good – and the best – stars (albeit, unknown here) of the eminently interesting Israel music scene have performed, as well as some of the leading international figures that have visited the country. In addition to their daily bowling schedule, this booster of local talent also hosts conferences and exhibitions, as well as being hired out for rehearsals and recording sessions. 13 Ha-Rechevim Street
Come and discover Jerusalem’s alternative scene – book your Vueling here!
20 July, 2016