The Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem

This would be our home for the next 8 days–the beautiful Austrian Hospice.  It was founded in 1856 and opened on 19 March 1863, this hospice is the oldest national pilgrim house in the Holy Land.  Many of the guests today are German-speakers.  We felt right at home!

Here is an old photo of what the hospice looked like many years ago:

And here’s a little bit of information about this historic place:

The Austrian Hospice is an impressive hospice for pilgrims, established in 1863. The hospice was built in an important junction at the heart of the Muslim Quarter in the old city, in the intersection between Via Dolorosa and “Hagai” streets, a short walking distance from the Lion’s Gate and the Damascus Gate.

The hospice was meant to host crusaders and pilgrims from Austria. In 1869 the Austro Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph the 1st arrived for a visit, after participating in a ceremony for the opening of the Suez Chanel. In his visit, he inaugurated the hospice and even stayed there. In its early days, the building was 2- stories high. Over the years, many crusaders visited the place, and towards the end of the 19th century a 3rd story was added to the building, in order to accommodate the growing numbers of guests.

Following the end of World War I, the British confiscated the building. During the British Mandate it served as an orphanage for a number of years. After the Israeli War of Independence (1948 war), the hospice served as a military hospital under Jordanian rule. After the 6- Day War, the building continued to serve as a military hospital, this time by the IDF, until it was returned to the Austrian church in the 80s, which conducted extensive renovation after years of neglect and destruction. After it was renovated, the building returned to its original role, hosting tourists from Austria and other German- speaking countries.

The hospice contains a courtyard with a garden, and also a café with Austrian cuisine. It is possible to ascend (for an entrance fee) to the roof of the building, where you can observe the breath-taking view of the old city and its surroundings.

This is the entrance now from street level.  There is a military outpost between Claire and the hospice entrance.  Once inside, you go up several flights of stone steps to the lobby or entrance.

Our rooms were in a newer building behind the original hospice.

These are the views from our rooms:

Looking at the east side of the hospice:

And these are the incredibly beautiful views from the roof:

Breakfast was served every morning–in delicious Austrian-Israeli style.  We loved starting each day here.

The hospice has a beautiful library and a lovely chapel.

Staying in this place was one of the highlights of our time in Jerusalem.  We were in the heart of the Old City, able to walk everywhere we wanted to go.  And that’s just what we did!

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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