Sergei’s Courtyard in the Russian Compound – Hatzar Sergei in Jerusalem

Sergei’s courtyard is part of the Russian Compound in the center of Jerusalem. The Russian compound was purchased in 1860 by Czarist Russia.

Sergei’s courtyard and the buildings surrounding it were built in the 1890 by Russia for the benefit of pilgrims to the holy land. It was a lavish hostel for pilgrims and aristocrats. The hostel was named for Tsar Alexander II’s son, Count Sergei Alexandrovich.

the courtyard

After the Israeli war of independence in 1948, the property was in Israeli hands. In 1964, Israel purchased the Russian compound properties for $3.5 million, which was paid in oranges.  Sergei’s compound was not included in the purchase because it was owned privately by Count Sergei. Sergei had no children, and the property remained unclaimed by his next descendant. Israel property laws state that unclaimed property can be transferred to Israeli ownership after 15 years.

The Kremlin demanded that it be returned as it was acquired by Israel illegally. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert returned the land to Russia as a gift and goodwill gesture in February 2009.

The courtyard is still used for many activities, from concerts to a monthly flea market. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the SPNI, also has offices in the courtyard.

Sergei’s courtyard contains a lovely garden with old farming implements, olive presses and ancient wells. Benches are strategically placed in shady areas, making this a lovely spot for a short rest or picnic.

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