Souk Al-Bazaar can be accessed on foot by walking to the end of the Maristan Street (‘Bimaristan,’ a Persian word which means ‘hospital,’ where ‘bimar’ means ‘sick’ and ‘stan’ means ‘place’) and then heading east (left). The Bazaar is located a few steps away, on the northern side of the street.
The Bazaar’s Origin as a Hospital
Souk Al-Bazaar used to extend from Suwaiqet Alloun near Jaffa Gate up to the junction of Souk Al-Husr and Souk El-Lahhameen. However, it later contracted to include the area between the Maristan Street and Souk Al-Lahhameen. The souk was centered on the remnants of the Bimaristan building, or the Salahi Hospital, named after Salah Eddin Al-Ayyoubi (Saladin), who assigned doctors and made it a center for treating the sick in Jerusalem. After the hospital deteriorated and stopped operating, it was used as a center for selling fruits and vegetables, especially during 1950 to 1980.
The Bazaar, practically what remained of the Bimaristan, is composed of a group of corridors extending from north to south, supported by a group of arches separated by tiled spaces, and covered by vaulted ceilings with openings for light and ventilation. With large numbers of people moving out of the Old City due to the difficulties of living inside it, the souk lost its customer base and closed down for some time. Later, it became a souvenir market. There is currently a plan to develop and upgrade it to provide services to visitors and tourists such as food, drinks, sweets, and Palestinian Arab traditional products. Visitors should remember that this site witnessed prosperous times, when skilled physicians treated all races of patients, and their reputation was recorded in medical references.