How green is my neighborhood valley

The verdant Nayot and Naveh Sha’anan are near some of the city’s best-known landmarks.

Naveh Sha’anan neighborhood in Jerusalem (photo credit: Courtesy)
Naveh Sha’anan neighborhood in Jerusalem
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem is located on hilly terrain, and one has to hand it to the city planners: they have made the most of the topography and have still, in many areas of this sprawling metropolis, retained the verdant colors of the country.
One of the most attractive parts of the capital is the large area surrounding Sacher Park, including the government compound, the Botanical Gardens, the Valley of the Cross, and the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus. This area contains three distinct neighborhoods: Nayot, Naveh Sha’anan and Mishkenot Ha’uma.
In this article, we will look at the first two neighborhoods. While Mishkenot Ha’uma can be considered a geographically integral part of the swath of green that has Sacher Park and the Valley of the Cross at its center, it is a modern complex of luxury apartments and has little in common with the other two, which are suburban-oriented.
Nayot was the first housing project that Anglo immigrants built in Jerusalem; in fact, until it officially changed its name to Nayot in 1963, it was known as Hashikun Ha’anglo-Saxi (the Anglo-Saxon neighborhood). English-speaking immigrants seeking housing in the 1950s formed a committee in 1957 and leased four acres of land from the Jewish National Fund, just south of where the Israel Museum and the Knesset building are now. At the time, that land was outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.
In 1960, the first 62 semidetached homes went up, of which 50 were purchased by immigrant families from the United States and Canada. The organizing committee set up a mortgage fund – the first of its kind in Israel – to help prospective buyers purchase the dwellings. For every dollar raised in the US for that purpose, the Israeli government gave $2.
Today there are no building projects in the area, but occasionally some of the original semidetached homes come on the market.
LOOKING OUT from the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden at the Israel Museum, one sees the red tile roofs of Naveh Sha’anan’s semidetached homes, each with a private entrance and garden.
Naveh Sha’anan is a small but central neighborhood, squeezed in between the Israel Museum and the Hebrew Givat Ram campus. It was one of the first Jerusalem neighborhoods built during the British Mandate. The first homes were built in 1929 by the Naveh Sha’anan society. The planning principles were similar to those of Richard Kauffmann, who designed the city’s garden suburbs during the Mandate period. When former mayor Teddy Kollek decided to build the Israel Museum in the ’60s, the original homes were demolished to make room and were rebuilt further down the slope, at the neighborhood’s current location.
When the neighborhood was relocated, the builders erected two apartment buildings at the end of Naveh Sha’anan Street to house professors from the Hebrew University. The area is much in demand among the university staff, because it is within walking distance of the campus.
The neighborhood, which stretches the length of Naveh Sha’anan Street, is nestled in the green hilltop directly across from the Botanical Gardens.
Some of the first residents were Jews from Bulgaria.
Because it is such a small neighborhood, it is often lumped together with nearby Nayot. However, the two have different characters. Nayot has a more secular orientation, whereas Naveh Sha’anan is a harmonious mix of religious and secular.
The Ohel Leah Synagogue sits on the edge of the Israel Museum property. A restoration of the original synagogue built there in the 1920s, it was initially Sephardi, but today is a mix of Sephardi and Ashkenazi.
Some of the descendants of the original Bulgarian families remain, but many of the residents are academics, doctors and government officials, as well as artists and writers who are drawn to the pastoral views, picturesque walking and bicycle paths, and proximity to the center of town.
“Naveh Sha’anan is both a street and a distinct neighborhood located slightly west of the center of town,” Shelly Landau-Weisburd, a real-estate agent who specializes in the area, tells In Jerusalem. “It has a Tuscany-like atmosphere based on the green hill it is built on, its low density, and its proximity to museums and parks. The entire area is comprised mostly of 60 semidetached private family homes from the late ’50s and early ’60s, with country-style stone facades, private entrances and gardens. In addition, in the ’80s, a cluster of modern apartment buildings was constructed at the end of the road, and these days a brand new luxury building was just completed directly across from the lovely Billy Rose Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the Israel Museum.”
• A four-room, 99-square-meter apartment on the first floor of a six-story building with an elevator and private parking sold for NIS 2.13 million.
• A five-room, 124-sq.m. first-floor apartment in a recently completed three-story building sold for NIS 4.8m. The apartment came with a private storage room and underground parking, and the building has a Shabbat elevator.
• A 4.5-room, 107 sq.m. duplex on the ground floor, with a small garden and private entrance, sold for NIS 2.8m.
• A six-room, 160-sq.m. ground-floor duplex with a garden and private entrance sold for NIS 4.25m.
Currently for sale:
• A 3.5-room, ground-floor, 70-sq.m. apartment with building rights for an additional 83 sq.m. (153 sq.m. in total) is being offered for NIS 3.68m.
• A 4.5-room penthouse measuring 145 sq.m., in a recently completed luxury building with a spectacular view of the Botanical Gardens, two parking spots, storage and a Shabbat elevator, is being offered for NIS 5.5m.