Downtown Jerusalem has welcomed summer with … umbrellas!
A thousand colorful umbrellas were suspended by barely visible string over downtown areas, starting with Yoel Moshe Solomon Street in the historic Nachalat Shiva district just off the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall.
It never rains in Israel during the summer months, but the sun is strong enough to cook shakshuka on the pavement. So let’s call these decorative umbrellas “parasols.”
First and foremost, however, they’re meant as an attention-catching way to welcome visitors downtown. Yoel Moshe Solomon is one of the city’s most cosmopolitan areas, filled with art galleries, jewelry and craft shops, boutiques, and cafés. People love to walk through the pedestrian-only street and browse the shops till the wee hours, especially on Thursday and Saturday nights.
What is usually known as the Umbrella Sky Project began several years ago in Agueda, Portugal, and has since spread to streets in Turkey, Serbia, Germany, Cambodia, and other countries during the month of July. It was first implemented in Israel in 2013, when 600 colorful umbrellas were suspended over Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard to celebrate the arrival of free Wi-Fi across the city.
Nachalat Shiva was founded in 1869 by seven (shiva, in Hebrew) Jewish residents of Jerusalem’s Old City and is one of the first neighborhoods to be built outside the Old City walls. In addition to galleries and shops, it houses historic synagogues and the iconic Tmol Shilshom bookstore café.