The magnificent combination of old and new surrounding Mishkenot She’ananim today makes it hard to believe that when it was built in 1860, for Jews living in Jerusalem’s Old City, it stood virtually alone in the landscape.
When the British Jewish philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, used a bequest by the American Jewish leader Judah Touro to build this complex, living outside the walls was a revolutionary idea! To help residents feel secure, the building’s roof was designed to imitate the crenellation of the ramparts across the valley, and Montefiore gave it its Hebrew name, which means “peaceful dwellings” (Isaiah 32:18).
The neighborhood's famous windmill, built to provide a livelihood for residents, now houses a museum dedicated to Montefiore. A replica of the carriage in which Montefiore and his wife toured the country is also on display. On it is his coat of arms, bearing the words “think and thank,” and “Jerusalem” in Hebrew. Restored after the Six Day War, before which it was on the border, Mishkenot She’ananim is now a guest house for artists.