Machne Yehuda is Jerusalem’s main market, situated between Jaffa Street and Agripas Street just on the edge of the neighbourhood of Nachlaot. The market is comprised of two main streets, an open air street and a covered street which are packed with stalls and shops. Between the streets is a maze of small alleys and they are also home to numerous stalls.
The market is a bustling place with over 250 shops selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to spices, wines, clothes and housewares. It is easily the cheapest place in Jerusalem to get basic foods and this combined with its lively atmosphere have made it into a hugely popular place.
At first Machne Yehuda can be fairly overwhelming. It is a noisy place, often crowded and there are continual shouts of “cheap bananas” or “half price bread”. However, most people get used to it very quickly and many find that they love the energetic atmosphere. This atmosphere is present regardless of which day of the week you visit the market and it is nearly always packed with people doing their shopping.
Some people love to linger in the market and take their time browsing all of the stalls, others want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Don’t’ worry if you fall into this second category, after just a few visits you are sure to know where to find everything you need.
One of the nice things about the market is that if you regularly return to the same stall holders it doesn’t take very long for them to begin to recognise you. After a few months of shopping at Machne Yehuda the sellers may even start preparing things to give you when they see you approach which can certainly save some time.
You will quickly realise that the later in the day you visit Machne Yehuda the cheaper things seem to be. This is of course because the sellers are eager to sell as much as possible before they go home. As a result some real bargains can be found in the late afternoon but on the other hand it does means that some of the freshet produce will have gone. However, with many things (fruit, vegetables, etc.) this isn’t really an issue.
The market is at its busiest on Friday mornings. It often seems as if every resident of Jerusalem is there rushing to finish their shopping before Shabbat. As a result shopping on a Friday can take far longer than on other days and unless you have the time to enjoy the madness, it is probably worth trying to do your shopping on a different day. However, the best deals are to be found on a Friday a couple of hours before Shabbat so if you can face the crowds then it may be worth a visit.
The market is an icon of Jerusalem that is loved by locals and tourists. While it may feel like a slightly manic place, it is by far the cheapest place to shop and overtime you are sure to come to love it.