Mark Twain and Herman Melville in Jerusalem

This week I took a day hike through the Old City looking for the two primary hotels used by travelers from the in the 19th century. Of note, Mark Twain was in Jerusalem in 1867 and he wrote about his experience in “Innocents Abroad.”

Finding Mark Twain’s hotel was easy, as it is an infamous building just inside the Damascus Gate. Twain stayed in the Mediterranean Hotel for only two days. The building was then purchased from a Christian owner in the 1880s by Moshe Wittenberg who renamed it as Wittenberg House. In the 1980s Ariel Sharon purchased one of the apartments – a thorn in the side of the local Palestinian residents as he didn’t actually live there – it was simply to create a provocation to have a settlement in the Arab section of the Old City. The apartment was eventually sold to the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, Ateret Cohanim.

I specially like the windows in the building. It took me a few minutes to find a good angle.

1/1000 sec at f/5.6

1/1000 sec at f/5.6

Actually, there were three versions of the famous Mediterranean Hotel. Twain stayed in the one near the Damascus Gate. Herman Melville stayed in the one at the Patriarch’s Pool not far from Jaffa Gate. It is almost impossible to get a shot of the front of the building of the one at the Patriarch’s Pool, as the road in front of the building is narrow. But the angle makes for an interesting shot. I still haven’t found the third incarnation of the hotel. But I will!

1/800 sec at f/4.5

1/800 sec at f/4.5

However, the back side of the building faces the Patriarch’s Pool. This ancient reservoir has many names: Hezekiah’s Pool, the Pool of Pillars, or the Pool of the Patriarch’s Bath. It is 73 m by 43 m and can hold about 11,356,235 liters! Today, it is impossible to get to the pool, except through the good graces of Al Quds University.

Walking to the pool, we enter a beautiful courtyard and walk through a sort of ante-room, with a beautiful vaulted ceiling.

1/80 sec at f/7.1

1/80 sec at f/7.1

1/500 sec at f/4.5

1/500 sec at f/4.5

You’ve got to love the couches!

1/25 set at f/4.0, ISO 640

1/25 set at f/4.0, ISO 640

1/640 sec at f/5.6

1/640 sec at f/5.6

Unfortunately, it is a filthy! Here in this shot you can see the back of Melville’s Mediterranean Hotel. I hope that for him it wasn’t so disgusting.

But, there’s still a great view of the city from the pool (looking north – west).

1/1600 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

1/1600 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

4 thoughts on “Mark Twain and Herman Melville in Jerusalem

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