The Muristan is an area located in the Christian quarter. It includes the German Church of the Redeemer and the Avtimos market. The mane “muristan” is derived from the Persian word for hospital. This is because it was built over the ruins of the structures built by the Hospitallers, a military order of the Crusaders. The entire Muristan is an area that covers 17 Dunam. It lies directly between the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Hospitallers’ Church of St. John the Baptist and the German Church of the Redeemer.
The Muristan used to be named for the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. The Prussian eagle symbol is located above the entrance arch. There is a tunnel leading to David Street. There is an entrance to a garden on the left side of the street. A monument dedicated to the first Crusaders hospital stands at the entrance of the garden. In 1903, the Greek-Orthodox patriarchate of Jerusalem built a market on the western side. In Greek, market is called “Avtimos.”
The Avtimos includes over 60 stores. There is a huge fountain in the center of the market honoring the Sultan Abed al-Hamid II (1876–1909). With the large number of local venders and ornate, unique churches, the Muristan is a must see for any Christian pilgrim visiting the Holy Land.
When Jesus’ time the area outside the city walls, now the Muristan, was used as the crucifixion and burial site of Christ. As early as the second century, though, the Roman Forum was built in this area. The Roman Forum was a religious and political center of Aelia Capitolina (the Roman word for Jerusalem).
Then, in the 5th century the Church of Saint John the Baptist was built. According to tradition, the church marks the site where his head was buried. However, the Church of Saint John the Baptist was destroyed when the Persians invaded in 614.
Italian merchants established a Hospital and Church, Saint Mary of the Latins, in the 11th century. They later added another church, Saint Mary Major or Santa Maria Maggiore. These were built near the south end of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This hospital serviced Crusaders during the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. The Benedictine Monks responsible for tending to the Crusaders then formed their own order called the “Hospitallers.”
The “Hospitallers Quarter” was ruined by the Mamluks, who invaded in 1267. In 1839, the monastery of Saint John the Baptist, started by the remaining hospitallers, was renovated by the Greek Orthodox Church.
The east side of the Muristan was given to the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm during his visit to Jerusalem in 1869. Kaiser Wilhelm II succeeded him as the German Emperor. In 1898, he made a visit to the Holy Land with his wife, Augusta Victoria. During his visit, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was dedicated. In 1903, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem constructed the Greek market and removed the remains of the Santa Maria Maggiore.
The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. (Acts 14:13)