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All of Jerusalem meets in Mahane Yehuda, from first-time visitors to residents filling their trolleys with fruit and veg. Market tables are laden with wheels of halva (sesame-paste nougat), olives larger than thumbs, glistening poppy-seed pastries and almost everything that can be made or grown locally. At night, it reinvents itself as a restaurant and bar hub where local foodies and tourists hang out.
The market has two major streets: Mahane Yehuda St, the open-air market, is more suited to loading up on produce from butchers and veg sellers, while Etz Chayim St, the covered market, has a proliferation of places to sample pastries, pancakes, juices and more.
A market has stood here since Ottoman times. During the British Mandate period, attempts to streamline its layout fell by the wayside, allowing Mahane Yehuda to preserve its straggling appearance to this day. Historically, the names of the market's alleyways related to the products available, but these days it's a movable feast: HaAfarsek (‘Peach St’) has linens, HaTut ('Berry St') has a butcher and Ha'Egoz ('Walnut St') is busy with sweet, coffee and flower sellers.
The market is at its bustling best on Thursday and Friday during the pre-Shabbat scramble, though you'll be elbow to elbow with shoppers.