Jerusalem- The Centre for Jerusalem Studies – Al-Quds University organized last Saturday a tour to the European Consulates in the Old City. The photo-historian George Hintlian guided a group consisting of present day
consuls and representatives, as well as journalists, students and NGO employees, on the tour, tracing the emergence, development, activities and locations of 19th Century consulates in the Old City.
The emergence of European consulates is connected closely with developments of the 1830's in Palestine. It was in 1831 when Mohammed Ali challenged the
Sultan militarily and invaded Greater Syria and marched on Turkey. The Sultan sought the military assistance of European Powers. These countries agreed to help in return for concessions which included opening of
consulates of different European countries. The first consulate to operate in Jerusalem was the British and it opened its doors in 1839. By 1847 there were 7 consulates within the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Theconsulates had tremendous input in the invigoration of the commercial life of the country. They were to play a crucial role in the politics and power game of 19th century Jerusalem. They offered many services to the local
population including the opening of post-offices and banks. Most consulates were located within the radius of the present-day Moslem quarter where most
government buildings were situated.