Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jerusalem stone answers

Readers of my previous post asked WHY the mandatory use of Jerusalem stone to face houses and structures in our capital.
Well, there is something we call "the dialogue of the stones." If you are quiet and listen, you can almost hear the building stones, ancient and modern, speaking to one another. But for that, you have to come here and be here, really BE here.

I hope you will come!
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I found this more historical, but less poetic, explanation at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
"In December 1917, when General Allenby entered the Old City of Jerusalem on foot, through Jaffa Gate, British rule over Palestine began. The British, who governed first by military government, later (until Israel's independence in 1948) by Mandatory administration, set up their administrative center for the country in Jerusalem.

During these years, Jerusalem began its transformation from the provincial town of Ottoman times to a modern administrative, political, religious and cultural center. Building activity began almost immediately and Jerusalem expanded to the north, south and west.
The British determined municipal zones, commercial areas, density of construction, use of materials and height of buildings.
Perhaps their most influential contribution to the character of architecture in Jerusalem was a municipal ordinance - which remains in effect to this day - requiring all new buildings to be faced with stone, giving a certain romantic quality to the buildings
."

And this from Wikipedia:
>Meleke (Arabic, “kingly” or “royal”) is a type of white massif limestone underlying much of central Israel. A type of dolomitic limestone, meleke has been extensively quarried for centuries and has been used in many of the region's most celebrated structures, including the famous Western Wall. "Jerusalem stone," as it is sometimes known, is extracted from quarries in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas.
. . .
Besides meleke, a number of other building stone types in the Jerusalem area may fall under the general rubric of "Jerusalem stone" 1. White, coarse crystalline limestone originally referred to as "Meleke", the stone of Kings. 2. Cream-colored micritic limestone known locally as "Mizzi Hilu" (sweet rock). 3. Red-colored limestone known as "Mizzi Ahmar" (red rock). 4. Gray crystalline dolomite known as “Mizzi Yehudi” (Jewish rock – modern times). 5. Flagstone of thin-layered limestone.
These rock types were quarried from the Judean limestone and dolomite in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.
This variety of stone gives Jerusalem its unique character. The setting sun reflected on the cream-colored limestone facade of both ancient and modern structures gives them a golden hue, giving rise to the term 'Jerusalem of Gold
.'"
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P.S. If you want to know still more click here to see pictures of the different stone colors and textures.
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5 comments:

Tipper said...

How very interesting. Every time I visit you I learn something new!

reader Wil said...

Dina, it looks like marble! It must look very beautiful on buildings. In Greece marble is often used, but it is very expensive here in our north European countries, where wood was cheaper.

Kris McCracken said...

Again, thank you for doing the research, I figured that it must be something like that. It does make sense to me that you would want to keep a uniform look for a city like Jerusalem. Having a rule like that also doesn’t hurt the local quarries!

Hobart is a real mix-match of styles. Launceston in the north is far more uniform (a sort of industrial Edwardian), but that is mainly from a lack of investment through the mid to late twentieth century rather than any deliberate design. They have been lucky to have escaped that period with relatively few modernist monstrosities though!

Palm Axis said...

I have the greatest admiration for stone masons. I fear it's becoming a dying craft in my part of the world. Only for big projects with big budgets and then we import the goods (I'm thinking specifically of the Getty museum).
I followed your link to the differing stone faces. I can only imagine how beautiful Jerusalem is in the autumn months when the sun is low in the sky and casts the most golden of light.
I'll be sending my "zoo sister" the article on camels.

Liz said...

That is very appropriate and right. And I prefer your reason!