During the late Ottoman rule in Jerusalem, people didn’t want to go all the way to the Old City to buy their produce and other household items, so they decided to build a market on the Valero family plot. This new market received the name 'the Beit Yaakov Market', named after the neighborhood it was located.
Since then, the market has moved to three separate locations and today it is situated between the busy Jaffa and Agripas streets, some of Jerusalem’s main routes of transportation. The market’s name was then changed to the Mahane Yehuda Market (or Shuk in Hebrew), after the neighborhood it’s located.
The new market is an open and partially closed market, running through many little streets and alleys in the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood. This neighborhood is located next to the famous Nahlaot neighborhood, known for its narrow and winding lanes with hidden courtyards. Contrary to popular belief, the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood is named after one of its founders and not the other way around as some may think.
The street the Shuk is on was rented out by the merchants from the Etz Haim Yeshiva, which also happens to be the name of the street. In between the open and closed areas of the Shuk, the streets are generally named after types of foods- which is very befitting of a market.
Nowadays, if you talk to an average Israeli about the Mahane Yehuda Market, they will probably just refer to it as the Shuk.
The Shuk is a place where everything can be found, from food to clothing, kitchen utensils to restaurants, and the produce there is mostly from local farms. It's a great place to connect with Israel, meet the people, and learn about Israeli culture!
In the past few years, graffiti artist, Solomon Souza, began creating his art around the Shuk and even turned some of the store steel shutters into unique and beautiful pieces of art.
Meanwhile, the nightlife in the Shuk has upgraded tremendously, and the area is now home to many bars and restaurants that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Although the Shuk has gone through many changes over the years, at least one thing hasn’t changed- Fridays in the Shuk. On Fridays, the Shuk is a crush of people with many Jerusalemites and tourists that come special, doing their shopping for the Shabbat. If you really want to get the full Mahane Yehuda experience, you must visit on a Friday.