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.
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 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.