One hot day in the 1980s, a former colleague at the Jerusalem Post was dozing on her 3-hour train ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As the train pulled in to the station, she opened her eyes to the sight of women elegantly dressed in flapper style, uniformed British soldiers, Arabs, Turks… in short, she was suddenly transported to between-the-wars British Mandate Palestine.
The backdrop was so natural, she thought hazily for a moment she was time-traveling and had to shake herself completely awake before realizing that a movie was being filmed at the station.
Small wonder that the station – great as a movie location perhaps but obsolete in railway terms – was shut down in 1998 where it languished in disrepair, abandoned and neglected.
That is, up until a few weeks ago when it reopened as a beautifully appointed cultural and tourism center.
Originally built 120 years ago, the railway station consisted of a two-story building with a one-story wing on either side, a mechanism to change the train’s direction, a bomb shelter and a large water tank. The structure’s architecture was inspired by 19th century European and Templar design.
The building was almost identical to the Jaffa railway station building, differing only by the construction materials used, as the Jerusalem railway station building was constructed using local limestone. Different components were added to the building over time, for example, a thick layer of cement added to the roof to protect the structure against Italian air-raid attacks during the British Mandate.
For more about the history of the Jaffa-Jerusalem route, refer to the FirstStation.co.il website and read the Israel21c post and Israelity post about the opening of the Tel Aviv Railway complex; it too was refurbished by the architectural firms of Eyal Ziv and Moshe Shapira.
Like its Tel Aviv counterpart, the new Jerusalem railway station features gallery spaces, retail shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and a visitor center. There is a farmer’s market, arts fair, designers fair and special events. It also serves as the exit point for Segway and hybrid bicycle tours of the area as the old rail-track has been converted into a walking, running and biking path.
Train World 2013 is a unique, large-scale exhibition of model trains opening at the Jerusalem Railway Station complex on July 7th. It features over 1 kilometer of train tracks and rare model trains, from antique to modern, steam to electric.
According to Yoel Pe’er, CEO of Bimot, which coproduced the exhibition together with the Itzuv Bamah company, “The exhibition’s travellers will feel like they’re in Europe for a few days… We ensured an authentic experience of landscape, sites and surroundings reflected when travelling by train. World famous trains are already on their way to our exhibition. We intend to break a Guinness World Record for the shortest time of setting up an exhibition such as this one.”
“The exhibition allows the audience to closely observe tens of rare and unique train models, flown in from around the world and loaned from known collectors.”
“Israel has many train enthusiasts, as well as train fan clubs and connoisseurs. The field is highly appreciated, and its fan-base grows with every year. This exhibition is for the whole family, and will allow visitors to enjoy a thrilling experience, both unique and educational (including films from the trains themselves, projected onto large plasma screens, creative corners with trains to assemble and more).
Train World 2013 runs from July 7th through September 2nd at the Jerusalem Railway Station complex. For ticket information and purchase: www.bimot.co.il