Jerusalem’s secret charms to come out into open during Houses from Within event

Get a sense of the city’s development or steal some house decorating ideas with a weekend of house tours at the end of October

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

A triangular house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka, available for house tours during Batim Mibifnim, Houses from Within weekend, October 31-November 2, 2019 (Courtesy Ilan Nachum)
A triangular house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka, available for house tours during Batim Mibifnim, Houses from Within weekend, October 31-November 2, 2019 (Courtesy Ilan Nachum)

The end of the Jewish holiday season brings Batim Mibifnim or Houses from Within, the annual Jerusalem weekend of home tours. (The Tel Aviv version took place in September.)

Various homes and historic structures of Jerusalem will open their doors from October 31 through November 2, the 13th year of this always-popular open house event that offers the opportunity to get a sneak peek into peoples’ homes, national institutions and urban architectural and planning projects.

All tours are free, although some require advance registration.

Ein Kerem, a quaint hillside neighborhood known for its Christian holy sites as well as its funky character, is the site of several tours, including the “Who Needs a House?” tour, which looks at alternative housing, such as caves, trailers, yachts and tents. Ein Kerem once housed an area like that, and this tour will open a conversation about the perception of homelessness.
Friday, November 1, 9 a.m., open to the first 30 people
Meeting place: Ein Kerem, next to the spring

“Surrounding Ein Kerem” takes visitors to an eight-kilometer walking path being created by local volunteers in the grassy hills and slopes surrounding Ein Kerem. The trail got the official stamp of approval and markings from the Society of the Protection of Nature in Israel. Three tours — of three different sections of the route — will be led by a local activist, at three times and from three meeting places.
Saturday, November 2, 11 a.m. (Mary’s Spring), 1:30 p.m. (community garden in Yemenite Valley), 3:30 p.m. (across from the Karma restaurant).

Refurbished furniture and built-in shelving in an Ein Kerem home, part of the house tours in Batim Mibifnim, October 31-November 2, 2019 (Courtesy Shiran Carmel)

For a glimpse of another angle of Ein Kerem, visit the Avishai Family Residence, a five-bedroom apartment in a new residential complex at the eastern end of the neighborhood. The architects will explain the new design they made for a standard apartment that was adapted to the needs of its owners — a couple without kids at home — and includes carpentry elements and old restored furniture belonging to the family.
Saturday, November 2, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., no reservations required.

Want some home decorating ideas? Take a tour of The Penthouse on Deedes, a family vacation home situated on a quiet, tree-lined street in the German Colony. The duplex was designed to highlight the views and make the treetops, red roofs and street scenes part of the interior.
Friday, November 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., open house
10 Deedes St., German Colony

Over in Baka, there’s an opportunity to look at a new, three-story residential structure, with tours by the architect. The design involved several challenges, including a way to include four housing units and an underground parking garage on a small, triangular space while preserving the original 1930s-era facade and conserving most of the trees on the lot. Take a tour of this building with architect Matti Rosenshine.
Saturday, November 2, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Reservations required.
13 Yiftah Street, Baka

Learn how to make the most from just 53 square meters in Rehavia, where a two-and-a-half-room,1960s-era apartment was fully renovated and converted into a three-room, Scandinavian-styled apartment.
58 Gaza St., Apt. 8, 3rd floor (no elevator)
Friday, November 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., no reservations required

Look at Jerusalem’s neighborhoods a little differently with this tour of the Spot in the Neighborhood project, a placemaking initiative that works to preserve the stories, artworks, alleyways and gravesites nestled and hidden around the city. Organized by a Rehavia resident, the 90-minute walking tour will allow participants to visit the sites on their own, using a map that directs them around the locations.
Saturday, November 2, 1 p.m.
Giraffe Garden, 25 Ramban St., next to the kiosk

Ironworks abound on the fences and gates of Haneviim Street, where blacksmithing, welding and forging methods changed over the years and decades. Take a two-hour tour of the street’s steelworks with Apollo Legismo, a blacksmith, welder and restorer, who will explain the styles and concepts along the historic street.
Saturday, November 2, open tour
Meeting place: the corner of Heleni HaMalka St. and HaNevi’im St.

Views of trees and red rooftops from this German Colony vacation home, open during the upcoming Batim Mibifnim house tours, October 31-November 2, 2019 (Courtesy Batim Mibifnim)

There are also tours of the city’s new entrance tunnel under construction, urban renewal tours in historic districts, tours of the current National Library and the new one under construction, the new hall at the Botanical Gardens, the historic post office building on Jaffa Street, neighborhoods and buildings along Jaffa Road, a look at the Anglican School on Haneviim Street, and five tours of the Schneller Compound, which was constructed by Protestants, was taken over by the IDF and is now undergoing major renovation.

A list of all the tours can be found online at the Batim Mibifnim site.

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