The first historic train station in Jerusalem, founded 122 years ago, will reopen its doors
to the public in the spring of 2013. Located in Jerusalem’s Baka neighbourhood between
the road from Hebron to Bethlehem, the “First Station” is soon to become an entertainment venue.
Built in 1892, the station was the first railroad constructed in Palestine (then under
Ottoman rule). From that point on, the train travelled from Jerusalem to Jaffa and
continued to function until 1998. For the past 15 years, the old train station remained
abandoned which lead to damage, therefore qualifying it into the 110 building selected for preservation in Jerusalem.
The historic building will now reopen to the public as “The First Station”, a cultural
centre that is envisaged to host artistic events, exhibitions, and serve as a meeting point forl the people of Jerusalem to make their own. To this end, the space has accommodated areas for sport, culture and leisure.
The building’s original architectural design was heavily influenced by 19th century
European templar culture, thus the restoration of the station will allow for the centre to
become a significant tourist attraction. Original wagons and locomotives stationed at
the site will not leave the property boundaries, but will serve as museum pieces.
Additionally, the centre will have space dedicated to a traditional market as well as a
variety of cafes and restaurants (kosher and nonkosher) that will make the station accessible for tourists and locals alike to make the space an integral part of the neighborhood. The station is planned to contain an art gallery of 160 square meters which will also to be used as a small theatre. While the Old Terminal is destined to serve as a platform for Jerusalem art schools to show their work. The first exhibition is expected to open on April 25th 2013.
With an initial investment of 35 million NIS, the input of private investors is 15 million
NIS while the Jerusalem Municipality has invested 5 million NIS of its own on the
compound. The last 15 million NIS are invested by business owners in the form of
restoration work, design, and decorating business.
Although the land belongs to the state Israel, it is rented temporarily to private
entrepreneurs Avi Murdoch, Adi Talmor and Chemo Asaf, and Erez Navon for a period
of ten years. In 2023, the land will then be returned to Israel Railways. The investors
are committed to maintain and sustain the success of the compound, as it is an important
historical site located in the heart of the Jerusalem, a worldwide tourist attraction.
Published in: http://www.diplomacy.co.il