Greek Colony- The forgotten pearl in the heart of German Colony and Old Katamon
Not many people even realize that there is a neighborhood called the Greek Colony in heart of Jerusalem. This small yet pastoral neighborhood, located at the triangle between Old Katamon, German Colony and Katamonim, really deserves more respect than it gets. “Although most of the buildings seem run-down and neglected when compared with the neighboring areas, this is an investors paradise” states RE/MAX Vision agent, Susan Lerner, who specializes in this neighborhood .
“Savvy investors realize the potential of these properties due to their proximity to the more prestigious and higher-priced neighborhoods nearby. Many of the buildings are only 2 and 3 stories high currently, and therefore have potential building rights. A savvy investor who realizes the potential can make a very handsome profit with some research and a little patience”, explains Lerner.
Founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Greek Orthodox Christians, this southern neighborhood has a lovely middle eastern flavor which is prominent in the architectural design of the buildings. After 1948, Jewish immigrants began moving into the area. Many of the residents are the older original owners who are moving out as a younger generation is moving in. Young couples are realizing that they can afford this small niche whereas the surrounding neighborhoods have priced them out of the market. The middle- and upper-class residents are a mixture of national religious and secular.
A large section of the neighborhood is owned by the Greek Orthodox religious community. It was purchased by them in the early parts of the 20th century. In the year 2007, excavations of the area conducted by the country’s Antiquities Authority, while building part of the residential area, revealed the remains of ancient walls. Based on the analysis, these walls are the debris of farming terrace walls. Some of the findings revealed ceramics that can be traced back to the Byzantine and Roman periods. A popular attraction in the neighborhood is the Greek Community Center, built in the year 1902 at Bin Nun Street. It is meant to serve the Greek Orthodox Christians. It is also referred to as “Lesky” and is used for social gatherings, simple meetings, and other events like dancing lessons, cultural celebrations and national holidays.
The birthing hospital, Misgav Ledach, which was originally established in 1854 in the Old City of Jerusalem, funded by the French Rothschild family. It was later moved to the Greek Colony, and has been there for the last 40 years. Originally serving as a maternity hospital, it is now owned and operated by the Kupat Holim Meuchedet Health Fund, who renovated and reopened it in 2005. The hospital was originally founded to enable the Jews to be independent of Christian missionary hospitals.
The community center, Beit Elisheva, at the corner of Hizkiyahu and Elazar Hamodai, was built in 1962. The Working Women’s Council (today’s Na’amat) inaugurated Beit Elisheva, as a unique women’s training and cultural center in the the Greek Colony. Like other public Histadrut buildings from that period, Beit Elisheva was architecturally unique and expressed a fascinating connection between a local tradition of building in stone and internationally inspired Modernist daring. Over the years, it served the cultural needs of the community. It was later was bought by the Reut school, a religious school that’s part of the nonreligious school system, and committed to halachic practice while maintaining a completely pluralistic curriculum at the same time. Its activities include not only traditional prayer, morning and afternoon, but also meditation, yoga and tai chi. It hosts interfaith meetings with Muslims and Christians, and programs that bring its Jewish students into contact with both Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.
The Greek colony has become an attractive alternative for young couples seeking affordable apartments and good schools. Many investors are also realizing the advantages and future appreciation value of this hidden gem in the heart of Jerusalem.
Recent sales in the Greek Colony:
Yehoshua Ben Gamla Street- 3 rooms (54 sqm), sold for NIS 1,270,000
Hasadeh Street – 3 rooms, 47 sqm, sold for NIS 1,230,000
Elazer Hamodai Street- 3.5 rooms, renovated, 57 sqm, sold for NIS 1,800,000
Yehoshua Ben Nun Street- 104 sqm, 4 rooms with garden in use, sold for NIS 2,760,000