At the bottom of Independence Park, nearby the ancient cemetery for Moslem notables located there, the Mamilla Pool lies empty most months of the year. The rains of winter fill this Herodian water reservoir - reputedly built by Pontius Pilate - which led water to the Old City along a 750m aqueduct throughout the ages and up until the War of Independence in 1948. Immediately after, the Jerusalem municipality tried unsuccessfully to connect the pool to the Jerusalem water supply using a diesel generator, and coated the pool with cement.
This is also the location of the massacre of a large number of Christians in the year 614 - following the Persian capture of Jerusalem from the Byzantines. The late Ottoman saw the emergence from the Old City Walls and the beginning of a commercial area spanning between the Jaffa Gate and the Mamilla Pool, later referred to as the Mamilla Neighborhood - today's site of the Mamilla-Alrov Quarter complex.
With the first rains, the pool comes to life, sporting a host of crabs of different kinds, frogs, insects and a complete ecosystem. During Spring, it becomes a haven for migrating birds
throughout the city.
King George st. and Agron st.
Before serving as a bird observatory, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory at the northern edge of Sacher Park (where it meets the Wohl Rose Garden) served as a municipal garbage dump, eventually becoming one of the first public nature reserves in the city. Then, in the early 1990s, the Israeli government allocated the one-acre plot of prime real-estate for the center, which facilitates bird-watching and other bird-oriented activities, such as ringing and environmental activities for school children. The staff researches and monitors bird populations in the area and maintains a comprehensive database, and the 2-building complex also includes a visitors' center and computerized classroom.
Jerusalemites in the know visit here with fruit and other goodies to feed the passing birds, but more so the resident hedgehogs. The adjacent 75 acres Wohl Rose Garden boasts about 15,000 roses from all over the world, lawns and a reflecting pool.
Guided tours: Tues 5 pm
30 dears have made this park, located below the Givat Mordechai neighborhood and between the Pat Intersection and the Begin Parkway, their home, giving the park its name. Another name for the park is Mountain Fruit Valley, because of its lease to several Kibbutzim that at one time grew produce there.
Rampant construction began in the 1980s, with the construction of the Begin Parkway that cuts Jerusalem from north to south. In 2002-4, the real-estate battle for the area came to a head when local residents demanded their say in the rezoning of the area - the first time that environmentalists and social activists joined forces. Along with the issue of the endangered deer (who were also being harassed by dogs and residents), the authorities uncharacteristically decided to postpone the development plan for the time being. Today the area is still an urban nature reserve, with the wild flock of deer an attraction for young and old alike.
Between Katamon and Malha
Guided tours: Tues 5 pm
The article is courtesy of the Jerusalem Tourism Authority http://tour.jerusalem.muni.il