Aviva Levinson, producer of last weekend's Open House celebration of Jerusalem's architectural heritage, had two words to describe the event that drew more than 50,000 people: "open sesame." "People came from the Galilee, Beersheba and Tel Aviv. It was a great community event. It wasn't just about architecture," said Levinson. As if by magic, and a lot of diligence, Levinson arranged for the public to visit - for free - 84 of the capital's most beautiful and historic private residences, public institutions, churches, synagogues and gardens, including even the construction site of the soaring Calatrava Bridge. The program featured individual visits - facilitated by a brochure and map - guided tours in Hebrew and English and two children's events. Among the highlights were the Austrian Hospice on the Via Dolorosa, the home of architect Ziona Gerstein and her artist husband Dudu Gerstein, the reception hall of the Greek Patriarchate and the new Foreign Ministry building. Notably missing from the itinerary, however, was a tour of the Temple Mount mosques. "Architecture is something very political. It's facts on the ground," said Levinson, explaining the Wakf's decision not to participate in the event. The event got off to a festive start last Thursday in the courtyard of the Rockefeller Museum, a Mandate-era colonial gem built to house the archeological treasures unearthed by the British. Today the building houses both the Israel Antiquities Authority and a seldom-visited branch of the Israel Museum. Mayor Uri Lupolianski was on hand to rub shoulders with the elite of Jerusalem's architectural community and event sponsors, including the Azorim company, the Rassco-Isras company, the Eden company, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Alrov company, the British company, the Ariel company, the Architects Association, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites and Yad Ben-Zvi. The NIS 500,000 architectural extravaganza, which is scheduled to become an annual event, is modeled on similar, highly popular celebrations of urban heritage such as Open House New York, Doors Open Toronto and Tel Aviv's Open House, which was held in May.

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