Russian Pilgrams on Jordan River 311.
(photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept)
The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000
photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian
utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers
returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of
Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to
Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the
building of Tel Aviv.
It’s a fact that one of the causes of the Crimean War was a dispute over who
controlled the Christian holy sites in the Holy Land. The primary combatants
were the Russian Empire versus an alliance of the French, Ottoman and British
In 1851 Napoleon III sent an ambassador to the Ottoman court to
convince the Turks to recognize France as the sovereign authority over the holy
sites in Palestine, effectively meaning Roman Catholic control over the sites.
After Russia protested, the Ottomans reversed the agreement with the French and
proclaimed that Russia was the protector of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman
Empire (not too much to the liking of the Greek Orthodox).
France responded with “gunboat diplomacy.” The Turkish Sultan reversed his
ruling again, giving authority over Christian sites to France and the Roman
The dispute over the holy sites was part of the general balagan as the Ottoman
Empire disintegrated, leading to widespread warfare, predominately in the
Crimean Peninsula along the northern coast of the Black Sea.
After the war, Russian Czar Alexander II sent agents to purchase properties in
Jerusalem and Nazareth. The Russian Palestine Society was established in 1860 to
encourage and subsidize pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Russian churches, hostels
and even hospitals were built to accommodate thousands of pilgrims. The large
“Russian Compound” was established in Jerusalem.
More photos can be viewed at www.israeldailypicture.com.
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