Monday, July 27, 2009

Imperial Austrian Post Office

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Welcome to Omar ibn al-Khattab Square, just in from the Jaffa Gate, in the Old City, in Jerusalem.
The building on the right is the Swedish Christian Study Centre, but from 1857 to the 1890s it housed the United States Consulate.

Next to the Swedes is another old building whose roof you see on the left of the photo.

Since 1965 the Christian Information Centre, run by the Franciscans, is housed there. Drop in to ask about the Christian holy places or hours of prayer services, to get brochures and maps or to buy books, etc. Right now they are hosting a big exhibit about the journeys of Paul, made for the Catholic Year of Paul which just ended.

But as the plaque says, from 1859 to 1914 this same building was the AUSTRIAN IMPERIAL POST OFFICE.
Their international postal service was pretty primitive, but it was much more efficient and trustworthy than the existing Ottoman post.
Following the Austrian's lead, similar postal services were then established by France, Russia, Germany, and Italy.
You can read the fascinating story of the building and the P.O. at the Jerusalem Municality website. Their source, verbatim, is Jerusalem, a walk through time, Yad Ben-Zvi's Walking-Tour Guide.
When World War I broke out, the Ottoman authorities closed Jerusalem's foreign post offices, except for the German and Austrian military mail services, thus ending the Austrian public postal service in the city.
The Post Office used to look like this around the turn of the century.
The photo is from Wikimedia Commons.
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Starting tonight the weekly tours will be leaving from That's My World. Click to join a few.
Hope you enjoyed this little tour in the Old City. Shalom!
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18 comments:

cieldequimper said...

Extremely interesting post and lovely photos!

Reader Wil said...

Thank you so much for the tour, Dina, and also for drawing our attention to the shafts and channels under the City of David. That was very interesting, indeed!

Indrani said...

Interesting presentation of the old and new. Helps us understand with a better perspective.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

interesting tour --Is it tough climbing those hills?

erin said...

were the post offices in addition to the embassies of the countries represented? fascinating read as always. and i thank you for stopping by.

Dina said...

Hi Ciel, Wil, Indrani--thanks, glad you enjoyed.

Marcia, climbing is fun in the right season. Now it has been around 90 degrees F in Jerusalem for 2 straight weeks and no change in sight.

Erin, yes, the post offices were not part of any embassy. BTW, remember that Jerusalem did not, and does not, have any embassies because no country wants to recognize her as our capital. We have only consulates. The embassies are over in Tel Aviv.

richies said...

The history of Jerusalem is fascinating, and touches just about everyone.

An Arkies Musings

Jew Wishes said...

The photos are lovely. I love the perspectives and overviews.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Dina: How neat to look at the old and new photos.

FA said...

Fascinating. I sure hope to see all of this for myself someday.

Vaggelis said...

beautiful photos. this city is full of history and memories

Arija said...

Dina, Shalom my friend!
This was a most intormative and enjoyable post. You always find such interesting things to show us from your Jerusalen. I would dearly like to walk the streets with you, msrvel at the old buildings and explore the markets. Sating my eyes with their colours and my nose with the heady aromas of many spices. For some unknown reason, my daughter and I have a great love for all things Austrian, so the Post Office story was a doubly interesting historical snippet.

Greensboro Daily Photo said...

Your town has such a distinct character. If we took a similar shot of our town, I guess you'd see lots of red brick and cement and very few red tile roofs. We have neither embassies nor consulates. Interesting to think about.


We are expecting a high of 88F today so you are a little warmer Fun to compare......

JM said...

Wonderful views! Also like the old photograph.

Abraham Lincoln said...

This was a neat Tour, Dina. I enjoyed it and the history presented. It is hard to imagine things this old are still around.

Rajesh said...

Very lovely aerial shots and excellent narration. The architecture of the post office is very grand.

ical said...

Great photos and descriptions of historical places. I see Omar ibn Khattab was the 3rd head of early Muslim caliphate.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Very few posts are packed with so much information. Very interesting about all the different post offices. I guess it would be similar to Argentina opening a post office in New York City.