Safra Square

Safra Square (Hebrew: כיכר ספרא‎, Kikar Safra) is a city square in Jerusalem. It is the site of the Jerusalem Municipality complex, which houses the municipal administration. Safra Square is located in a central part of the city, on the former seam line between West and East Jerusalem, a site chosen to symbolize its goal of serving all residents of Jerusalem.[1] The administrative compound including the square was inaugurated in 1993.[1][2]

Safra Square with palm trees alley and city hall in background, right

NameEdit

 
Jerusalem City Hall in Safra Square.

The square was named for the Syrian-Lebanese Jewish banker Jacob Safra (1891-1963) and his wife Esther, parents of Edmond J. Safra.[1][2] Edmond Safra (1932–1999), a Lebanese Brazilian philanthropist, has been one of the leading contributors to the fund which re-built the area of downtown Jerusalem.

LocationEdit

 
Safra Square's main plaza

The Municipality buildings around Safra Square create a triangular compound, facing the north-west/south-east running Jaffa Road and bordered on the east by the Shivtei Yisrael ("Judges of Israel") Street. The wedge-shaped compound is located at the eastern end of Jaffa Road and is pointing towards Tzahal Square and the walls of the Old City. Some of the historic buildings of the Russian Compound were restored and incorporated into the municipal complex,[1] while the others, grouped around the Holy Trinity Cathedral, are closing the triangle from the north-west.

HistoryEdit

The British Mandate-period Town Hall was built in 1930. Today it forms the eastern tip of the compound. As the city grew, along with the need to provide more modern and diverse services to an expanding and equally diverse population, the city government's offices expanded as well, and were spread throughout the city. The decentralized municipal government decreased in efficiency, and it was decided that a single building was needed to house Jerusalem's local government. After lengthy deliberations, the current location was selected, despite the challenge of preserving the large number of historic and culturally significant 19th-century buildings.[1][3]

The Canadian Jewish architect Jack Diamond and the Israeli architectural firm of Kolker, Kolker, and Epstein were selected to design a project for a unified Jerusalem Municipality complex, consisting of three new buildings, to be integrated with an existing ten buildings to form a cohesive, unified site.[1] The ten existing buildings would be preserved and rehabilitated in order to retain a sense of the historic character of the city.[1] Construction began in 1988 and the complex was inaugurated in 1993.[1][2]

Decoration and public artEdit

 
The old Russian hospital, one of the landmark buildings incorporated in the complex

The steps leading up to the complex from Jaffa Road are lined with 48 palm trees, hence the name Palm Plaza (Hebrew: רחבת דקלים).[dubious ] Several statues of lions, the symbol of Jerusalem, also adorn the square.[4][dubious ]

At the entrance of the complex stands the Daniel Garden, named for Jerusalem mayor Daniel Auster (in office 1937–38). The garden contains several works of art: a sculpture based on a large, working Archimedes' screw that carries water up from a small pool, titled "Modern Head"; a sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein donated in memory of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin;[5] and "The Binding of Isaac" by Jerusalem sculptor Avraham Ofek.

 
Public sukkah at Safra Square, 2009

In 2007 Safra Square hosted an exhibition of the United Buddy Bears, 138 two-metre tall bear sculptures, each designed by a different artist.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Safra Square - City Hall" (in Hebrew). Jerusalem Municipality. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014. Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine"... this area was chosen for its central location and for its accessibility to the Eastern (portion of the) city."
  2. ^ a b c עיריית ירושלים [Municipality of Jerusalem]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). 18 May 2005. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  3. ^ "שדחו ןשי". Jerusalem Municipality. Archived from the original on December 12, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
  4. ^ "Sister City - Jerusalem". Government of New York City. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
  5. ^ "Mideast Report". J weekly. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. March 28, 1997. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "United Buddy Bears The Art of Tolerance". Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved August 17, 2014.

External linksEdit


Coordinates: 31°46′49.49″N 35°13′25.99″E / 31.7804139°N 35.2238861°E / 31.7804139; 35.2238861