IN PICTURES: Jerusalem in the 19th century
To mark the annual commemoration of the reunification of the city after the 1967 Six-Day War, Ynet presents images from the Jerusalem of old, some dating back 150 years, offering a rare insight into lives of Jerusalemites before the creation of the State of Israel
Just how did Jerusalem look 150 years ago?
Thanks to early prints from the first days of photography in the Land of Israel, we have an answer. The images were carefully preserved in Israel's National Library and are now displayed here for all to see.
The last decades of the 19th century were characterized by a surge of tourists, researchers and pilgrims who visited the Holy Land as part of a predetermined route of tourist sites in the Near East.
Most of the visitors to the Holy Land did not have cameras, which were heavy and cumbersome devices – and expensive –in those days.
The "Orient" and the spirit of the Bible that they sought to absorb are clearly visible in the photographs produced by the few professional photographers who in the Holy Land in those days.
First and foremost of these photographers was Felix Bonfils, a French national who was among the first to produce color images from the Middle East.
The landscapes are empty, wide. Perhaps this was down to the difficulty of photographing passers-by due to the long exposures demanded by the glass panels, which were brushed with the light-sensitive lotion.
Yet on occasion, when the composition demanded it, the photographers did include the citizens of Jerusalem of those distant days, like extras in a truly majestic setting.
To mark Jerusalem Day, Ynet presents some of the earliest and most rare images of the holy city.