Sites and Trails
On the side of the highest peak of the ridge, the official residence of the British High Commissioner was inaugurated in 1933. Its official name “House of the Government” was replaced by the name it was commonly called, “Armon Hanatziv” (the Commissioner’s Palace). This name suited the building, which was one of the most lavish and architecturally impressive structures in the area, and represented the colonial British control at that time. The construction was planned over the course of three years, since the English architect Austin Harrison prepared a total of five plans until the authorities in London were satisfied. The construction of the palace itself took four years. It was built of stones quarried at the site, and gracefully incorporated eastern and western architectural elements. A large ballroom and hall for hosting guests were built, where special occasions were attended by the upper echelon of the British governing officials, foreign diplomats and Jewish and Arab high society. An octagonal tower was erected on the building, housing the High Commissioner’s private quarters. Sunken courtyards and decorative gardens were planted around the building. Behind the building, in the center of the yard designed as a half-moon shape, an octagonal fountain was erected following the tradition of North African palaces. The entire complex stretched over an area of 65 dunams and a structure resembling a Crusader tower was built at its gate. Interestingly, another public building with similar architecture, also planned by Harrison, is the Rockefeller Museum, inaugurated five years after Armon Hanatziv.
Immediately before the establishment of the State of Israel, the High Commissioner left the building and for a few months, Red Cross volunteers occupied the site. Since October 1, 1948, Armon Hanatziv has been occupied by the UN observers staff.
Near the path leading to the entrance of Armon Hanatziv is the “Tolerance Statue,” which was erected here in 2008. It was designed to look like an olive tree.
During the years between the War of Independence and the Six Day War, this military post was prepared and fortified by the Jordanians on a narrow, long, and rounded extension – resembling a sausage- sloping downwards from Antenna Hill at the peak of the Armon Hanatziv Ridge to the southeast.
The Arab Legion utilized the geographical advantage of this location since it overlooked the southern slopes of the ridge and the open area under Israel’s control in the area of the Agricultural Study Farm (see further). They built dozens of bunkers, communication trenches, fortifications and military posts. All of these gave the post, from a bird’s eye view, the shape of a huge centipede. During the Six Day War, a Jordanian company (of about 60 soldiers) captured the post.
On June 5, 1967, a short time after Armon Hanatziv and Antenna Hill was conquered by the Jerusalem Brigade, a small task force of soldiers from the brigade’s commando unit, reinforced by the infantry platoon and the tank platoon commanded by Regiment Commander Asher Dreyzen, were ordered to conquer the post. The forces descended from Antenna Hill and in a quick attack, cleared the trenches and positions. Less than an hour later, the forces reported: “The sausage is in my hands,” and this prepared the way to quickly conquering the rest of the area – fromthe Bell Post on the outskirts of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel – late that same afternoon. Twenty of the brigade’s soldiers fell in these battles.
The Strip of Promenades
In the mid 1980’s, four promenades was constructed, adding a continuous strip of greenery to the old pine grove and adorning the mountain like a crown. In 1986, the central promenade – the Haas Promenade – was inagurated. Three years later, the Sherover Promenade was added, stretching northward toward Abu Tor. In 1990, the Trotner Promenade was constructed within an open garden spreading across the steep slope from the north and the northwest toward the Haas Promenade. In 2001, the Goldman Promenade was inaugurated, continuing eastward toward the bottom of the pine grove and the UN observers headquarters. It reaches the eastern edge of the ridge, which overlooks the Judean Desert and the mountains of Moab past the Dead Sea. Among the flourishing gardens, paths were paved, benches erected and lookout points, pavilions and pergolas were built for resting and recreation. Stone and metal statues dotting the landscape add charm to the natural feel of the promenades.
At the eastern edge of the Haas Promenade, near the entrance to the parking lot, stands a memorial tablet in memory of the fallen soldiers from Brigade 16 that fell during the Six Day War in the battle over Armon Hanatziv, the Sausage Post and its surrounding area, a battle that opened the struggle for Jerusalem.
Monument in Memory of the Casualties from Regiment 68
The memorial site is dedicated to the 78 soldiers of Regiment 68 from the Jerusalem Brigade (Brigade 16) who fell in the strongholds of the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The monument, created by the artist, Aryeh Ofir, is made of six cast concrete blocks that look like an anti tank obstacle. Metal sheets are fastened to the blocks, etched with the names of the 14 strongholds that the soldiers protected, the names of the fallen soldiers, schematic descriptions of the strongholds and descriptions of the course of the battles.
The Airport and Camp Allenby
North of the access route to the Armon Hanatziv Ridge and the neighborhood of east Talpiot (Daniel Yanofsky Street), on Hanoch Albeck Street which is atop the national water divide, Jerusalem’s first airport was located. On the last day of the year 1913, just ten years after the Wright brothers first took off in their plane, two French pilots – Marc Bonnier and Joseph Barnier - made a spontaneous landing at this site. The next morning, they lifted off again to the cheers of thousands of Jerusalem residents who were thrilled by the sight. During World War I, the Turks prepared a runway for the German squadron who assisted them in their war against Britain. In April 1916, German planes begin to use this landing strip occasionally, which never became a permanent airport due to its limitations. After Jerusalem was conquered by the British, and during the years 1918-1922, the British Air Force occasionally used this landing strip, but with the establishment of the neighboring Talpiot neighborhood, Jerusalem’s airport was moved to Atarot, north of the city.
West of the airport, between Albeck Street and Derech Hebron, a British military camp named after General Allenby was constructed toward the end of 1917. After the establishment of the State of Israel, this camp was used by the IDF and afterwards by the Border Guard. During the second half of the 1990’s, the camp was cleared away and a new residential neighborhood was built in its place.
Agricultural Study Farm
Toward the latter part of 1927, the Jewish National Fund purchased a 50 dunam plot of land on the Armon Hanatziv Ridge. They were urged by Rachel Yanait Ben Zvi, who wanted to move the “Female Workers’ Farm” that she had been running since 1922 in Rechavia to the site. In the summer of 1928, agricultural preparations began at the site. During the riots of 1929, the farm was attacked and its residents forced to retreat to Talpiot. Activity at the site was renewed a few months later, and in 1933, the site became an agricultural study farm for girls, where local girls and new immigrants could receive agricultural training. During World War II, the institute also began to accept boys who had recently immigrated. During the War of Independence, the study farm held its ground and even served as an exit base for soldiers in this area. Only at the end of the war, when the disarmament agreement was set and the land became a demilitarized zone between Israel and Jordan, did the educational institute relocate to Ein Karem, on the western side of the city. After the war, the site served various purposes and in 1954, Hebrew University opened an experimental farm used by the Genetics Department, which was used until the 1970’s.