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The Armenian Monastery in Jaffa


the armenian monastery of jaffa

Jaffa Port is packed with interesting places to visit, one of the places with a rich history is the Armenian Monastery.

The Armenian monastery in Jaffa is one of the largest and oldest surviving buildings in Jaffa, the place was built in the second half of the 17th century and perhaps even before, by the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. The place was intended to serve as a hostel and a hotel for pilgrims to the Holy Land and, according to tradition, it was built exactly in the same place where the House of Simeon the Bursakai was located.


Jaffa orange


One of the traditions regarding the Armenian monastery is the place where the Orange Tree was first brought to Jaffa at the beginning of the 100th 18th by an Armenian monk who returned from a mission in China and he created one of the symbols of the city.

Over the years, the Armenian community had many successful craftsmen, and there was also an Armenian market from which they paid for the expenses of holding the Armenian monastery.

Today in Jaffa there are a few Armenian families, one of the families has the keys to the Armenian courtyard, once every two weeks a representative of the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem arrives in Jaffa to perform the prayer, and sometimes you can see a prayer that is held in place if the doors are open.

Most often the entrance is open to the public who wants to peek inside, recently the church has undergone a massive renovation funded by the family responsible for the maintenance of the premises and they will gladly show you the way inside.

Apart from the Armenian monastery, the community acquired additional properties in Jaffa such as warehouses and a Khan that hosted pilgrims.




the armenian monastery back street


One of the most significant events of the monastery was associated with one of the most famous people who visited the Holy Land, Napoleon. In 1799, Napoleon arrived in Egypt with 14000 soldiers, and from there he began a conquest journey along the coast of Eretz Israel and Jaffa is an extremely important destination.
Napoleon was as "sick" as Alexander the Great in conquests disease and had a great appetite to conquer the world, a fact that to this day many historians disagree.

Napoleon's journey experienced many difficulties because of incorrect intelligence that caused many losses in the territory and Egypt after a rather long campaign, his soldiers had the ‎Plague disease that caused serious losses later and loss in the final campaign.

After a night in Ramla Napoleon continues to Jaffa and establishing "Camps" and 4 divisions on the outskirts of the city.
After two days of preparation, the invasion of Jaffa begins after the inhabitants of Jaffa have not responded to the surrender and the campaign begins.
Napoleon's cannons bombard the southern wall and from there the city is planned to break into, the soldiers storm and enter the city, and the Turkish defenders hide in the houses and from there bombard Napoleon's soldiers. In the alleys of the Old City, a battle unfolds in which both sides are injured and the incident increases the anger of the Napoleonic soldiers.

After Jaffa was occupied by the Napoleonic soldiers, the time for revenge came, the soldiers began to plunder everything that came near and slaughter the inhabitants without distinguishing between women, men, and children and Napoleon did not intervene in doing so because he wanted to let his soldiers vent their anger. The goal was to signal the next destinations and show the result of reluctance to surrender to his army.

After three days of terrible massacres and acts of abuse, Napoleon sent two officers to calm the spirits and the officers realized that part of the city was not yet occupied! On top of the city, there is a hill and there are about 3000 soldiers who are barricaded. The Turkish soldiers sent a message that they were ready to surrender without a fight if they were promised not to kill them, the French agreed and imprisoned the prisoners about 4000 in number, and after a few days came the decision to kill all prisoners for fear that they could connect with the Turkish army later.




While the soldiers of the Napoleonic army waited, this plague erupted strongly and he chose the Armenian monastery as the place where the soldiers would be treated.
After several days of recovery and loss of a large number of soldiers, the army continued to move north to Acre since Jaffa became a military organization camp, every day more and more soldiers came to the Armenian monastery after they fell ill with the plague and Napoleon returned to the city to get organized several times after occupying Haifa.

Acre was the last stop, for about 60 days Napoleon sieged the city and finally lost the battle and was forced to retreat, the army was tired and sick and finally, they returned to Jaffa and from there to Egypt.




The myth of the death of the soldiers still exists and it is not clear what happened on the ground, many of the soldiers suffered and Napoleon allowed many to use opium to end the torment, the senior doctor refused to kill the soldiers and he said, " I am here to revive and not to slay״

After the withdrawal of the army, opium was found in the Armenian monastery, evidence of the great suffering of Napoleon's soldiers, who chose to stay and pray that the Turkish army wouldn't kill them, all the rest probably died of the Plague.

Armenians were the First Nation that officially accepted Christianity in the fourth century C.E. and turned the Armenian Church into the national church, the process probably began in the second century C.E. When messengers brought the Gospel of Christianity before spreading it throughout the region, the Armenians consider St. Gregorius as the spiritual father and the light of the Armenian nation.

St. Gregorius according to the Armenian tradition was the son of a nobleman, in childhood, his father died at an early age and his governess took care of his education in Cappadocia which is in Turkey, and there he received a Christian education.

when he returned to Armenia he openly declared the Christian religion and therefore spent many years in prison as a regime opponent. after he managed to convince the Queen of Armenia Thyridat, he instituted the religion that became official. That is why the Armenian Church is also called the Grigoryan church named after St. Gregorius.




old jaffa streets


Over the years, the Armenians have seen themselves as the greatest Christian nation, and they have learned the Bible a lot, which has increased their connection to the land of Israel where Jesus was born and died.
Over the years, the Armenians lived in Jerusalem and created their community and district, according to the Armenian tradition the Armenian Patriarch is the successor of St. Jacob, and therefore the Great Monastery in Jerusalem is named "St. James" after Jacob the son of Zebedee the messenger of Christ.




A less well-known chapter tells about the Armenian monastery in which the opponents of the Turkish regime were concentrated during the First World War before being sent to Egypt, the transport ties during this period were cut off and a moratorium was declared, many remained in Palestine found themselves unable to return home, on October 1 as part of the abolition of Those who refused to voluntarily leave can easily be murdered by the authorities and the Jews chose to accept the local government.

After several warnings across the coast of Jaffa, an Italian ship was parked, and all the opponents were sent inside, not quite so and they had to pay for the ticket to the ship, women were separated from men and children and all in the most extreme way to describe, many were deported, Christians and Jews who refused to accept the regime and all the rest were murdered.




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