Visiting Jerusalem on Friday can be a unique experience. During the day, the city is bustling with people hurrying about, getting ready for Shabbat which is the Jewish day of rest. Around the afternoon, it begins to slow down as if getting ready to sleep. As the sun begins to set the packed shops, cafes, and streets become emptier by the hour. A cloud of mystery descends upon the city. The perfect time for visiting a haunted hospital!
Are you afraid of ghosts?
If the answer is no, then come along. I’ll take you on a walk, to visit a haunted hospital and through an old medieval graveyard. Then onto a bar where you can enjoy a wide variety of Whiskey and Beer while listening to some good Rock and Metal. If ghosts do scare you, come along anyway, I promise you will enjoy the dreadful ghostly ride.
The Haunted Russian Hospital
The dark history of this particular building, began during the Victorian era, in the second half of the nineteenth century. It began with Russians acquiring lands in the Holy Land, and Jerusalem. Particularly to ensure their presence in the area and to accommodate Russian pilgrims. You can read about the Russian venture in the Holy Land here in a previous post of mine. One of their major enterprises was the area in downtown Jerusalem, known as the Russian Compound. Within its borders, there is one particular building bearing a dreaded tale shrouded in clouds of mystery. This monument of stone is the haunted Russian hospital.
History of the Haunted Hospital
Established in 1863, it was the first hospital erected outside the Old City walls. It was built to serve and accommodate the Russian pilgrims visiting the holy sites in the city. following the British conquering of the land, it became a municipal hospital. It was used to care for the sick and wounded, civilians and soldiers alike. With the Israeli Declaration of independence in 1948, the hospital came under Israeli rule. The IDF converted it into a hospital, changing its name to “Beit Avihail” (Avihail Building).
Today, the area of Safra Square serves as the Municipality Complex of Jerusalem. The caring nature of the Avihail Building was incorporated into the complex transforming it into something evil. Doomed to be the new hub of dread dealing, with fines and bureaucracy.
However, let us dwell on the haunted lower floor of this mysterious hospital.
The Haunted corridor of death
The lower basement floor of the building was reserved for the unlucky ones, those who couldn’t be saved. There, in the cold, dark corridor, was the morgue of the hospital, where many dead bodies were placed before they met their final dwelling place in one of the city’s many cemeteries. It’s not a surprise though, that some of them decided to stay…
Stories told by employees that worked in the hospital all tell a similar tale:
Some recall an eerie chill wash over them and a feeling of dread as they walked the dark hallway. Others avoided patrolling the place during the night, telling stories about unexplained sounds and lights. It is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who died inside, cursed to spread diseases long far gone.
As the building began to serve as part of the municipal complex, stories of frightened workers started to accumulate. In an attempt to appease the spirits, a Rabbi was called to purify the place. It didn’t help, though, nor did painting its’ doors and windows in an anti-evil shade of blue.
I haven’t been inside, yet, but while taking this photoshoot, I kept hearing creaking sounds coming from inside. It seemed as if someone was watching me from the upper office windows. If all that wasn’t enough, is it a coincidence that the number of the building is the cursed number 13?
I’ll let you find that out…
What to do on a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem
After getting the chills at the haunted hospital at Safra 13, you would probably want to calm down, eat a nice meal and enjoy some refreshing drinks to the sound of good music. However, while visiting downtown Jerusalem on a Friday is great if you want to enjoy a quiet afternoon, many of the businesses are closed, so it’s something you need to consider.
Let me tell you what we did after we finished the photoshoot. Once a month, on Friday afternoon, my friend Alex Djs Post Punk music at the Sira bar, located at 4 Ben Sira st., and open from noon till dawn even on the weekends. You can find all about the next Post Punk event on his Facebook page.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Sira, Alex had already finished his set, so we continued on with our plans.
The tomb of Kebekiyeh in Mamila Cemetary
From the haunted hospital, we headed to the Mamilla cemetery and Independence Park to check a place called the Lions’ Cave, where we planned on having a Gothic Picnic. You can read about the cemetery, the cave, and the picnic here in my previous post. From the Sira bar, head down the street, cross the road, and you’ll be facing a medieval cemetery, serving the Muslim population of the city from the Mamluk period (13th – 16th century CE) till the 20th century. There you will find a beautiful Mausoleum Turba, aka Kebekiyeh, erected for Emir Aidughi Kubaki, the governor of Safed, and Aleppo, who later on was exiled to Jerusalem where he found his death in 1289.
The path on the right from the tomb will take you on a tranquil walk through the cemetery. At the end of the trail, you can continue your afternoon and evening walk into Independence Park, visiting the dreaded Lions’ Cave, or you can head straight to the Glen Whiskey Bar located at 24 Agron st., one of my favorite bars in Jerusalem.
Glen Whiskey Bar – Jerusalem
The Glen Whiskey Bar is the perfect place for you to enjoy quality whiskey and unique craft beers with a tasty snack on the side to the sound of good rock, metal, and industrial music. With maybe the largest collection of whiskey in Jerusalem, the bar offers an assorted variety of approximately 500 types of whiskey from around the globe, collected by Leon, the owner, an alcohol enthusiast who enjoys traveling the world searching for new tastes and alcohol adventures. Here you can also find unique beers, some crafted by Leon himself.
You definitely can’t go wrong with that.
I have known Leon and The Glen whiskey bar for most of the time I’ve been living in Jerusalem, for over 15 years now, and I have always loved hanging out there. When life started getting back to normal in Israel after the many lockdowns, Leon, who always had a soft spot for dark, gothic, and underground music, asked me if I would like to do a monthly goth night at the bar, a tempting offer I couldn’t resist.
Leon has always been my go-to guy in regards to the goth scene in Jerusalem, always willing to collaborate with me on new ideas and events regarding the scene, providing the Jerusalem Gothic community with a warm and welcoming home. Here at The Glen, on every 2nd Saturday of the month, I DJ my line, Post-Pandemic Nights. You can stay up to date with the Gothic and alternative events in Jerusalem here, and you are welcome to follow me on my Instagram page dedicated to the line here.
Thus, if visiting the haunted hospital gave you the creeps, run through the Mamilla cemetery to the Glen, and they’ll make sure you come to your senses, or not, Mu-Ha-Ha. 😈