by: Janet Aslin, BFP Staff Writer
Jerusalem’s historic railway station, which had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, has found a new calling as HaTakhana Rishona (Hebrew for “The First Station”), a colorful outdoor venue filled with food stalls, family entertainment, and an exhibition of historic photographs on display inside the old station house.
It was originally built as the terminus for the Jaffa to Jerusalem train which ran from late 1892 until 1998. When the line began operating, there was no Hebrew word for train. Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the “father” of modern Hebrew, named it rakevet, or horse of steel, a word which is used today for Jerusalem’s light rail.
Transportation over the railway was halted during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. After the war, the line was thoroughly renovated and did reopen but never regained its original success. The last train arrived August 15, 1998, after which the station was closed permanently. From that point the historic landmark suffered from neglect and vandalism until the decision was made by the Jerusalem Municipality and Jerusalem Development Authority to give the location a make-over.
After extensive renovations, The First Station reopened on May 14, 2013. Visitors to the city and local residents alike are attracted by its convenient location and its motto as “a place where food and culture meet.” The atmosphere is joyous and the area is full of families enjoying the different activities available, or just hanging out, enjoying a meal or espresso with friends. Bicycles of all types share the promenade with people pushing baby strollers, walking their dogs, or lending an arm to an elderly person who is strolling slowly along. The promenade extends a significant distance along the route of the old tracks and is a popular walk in the cool of the evening. In addition to the restaurants and food stalls that are regularly open, the site hosts musical, literary, and artistic events. When you come to Jerusalem, The First Station is worth visiting.
Breads, baked goods
Seafood, Italian, Mediterranean
Freshly roasted coffee
Fruit smoothies and healthy shakes
Activity center for children
Tours and sport
Rent a bike
Take a Segway tour
Walking tours available
Shakespeare at the Station
Jerusalem Street Orchestra
A Matter of Design
Artists from various disciplines sell their work—glass, cloth, paper, clay, wood, metal and gold
Chik Chik Chak
A bazaar for the whole family
Variety of activities
Fair with various children’s items, and housewares
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