Contents | Index

Upper1

THE UPPER CITY

Most of Jerusalem's working people lived in the crowded, noisy precincts of the Lower City. Their one- and two-story houses stood packed closely together. In contrast, the broad fashionable avenues of the Upper City were laid out in an orderly grid pattern like the elegant cities of Greece and Rome. This part of Jerusalem was the home of the rich and powerful Jewish families and high-ranking Roman officials.

Comfortably removed from the rest of the population, they lived in spacious white marble mansions and palaces built around courtyards with elaborate gardens and pools. The magnificent royal palace of Herod the Great- later used by the Roman governor of Judea during his visits to Jerusalem-was situated in the uppermost northwest corner of the city.

Directly in front of the palace stood the Upper Market, with its Roman-style arcades along three sides and an open court for market booths in the center. Here were the shops of the dealers in luxury goods: the distillers of expensive oils and perfumes; the master tailors and silk merchants; the goldsmiths and silversmiths; the dealers in ivory, incense and precious stones. Household slaves went there to buy expensive imported foods for their masters' banquet tables.

Not far away was the PALACE OF THE HIGH PRIEST. (The high priest at the time of Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem, Caiaphas, did not live there but in another section of the Upper City. Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin probably took place in one of the large halls of his palace). Herod the Great had also built a THEATRE in the Upper City. It was a large, open-air auditorium with semicircular rows of seats ascending from a central stage. Wealthy Jews came there to watch the best of Greek and Roman drama. Most traditional Jews, however, scorned this and other outgrowths of Greco-Roman culture as immoral.