Jerusalem’s Old City is normally understood to be split into four quarters: the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Muslim Quarter. Those designations can be found on maps, on guidebooks, on news articles, and countless other pieces of writing about the city.
But as Matthew Teller points out in his latest book, Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City: the idea of the “four quarters” is entirely a nineteenth century creation, invented by a couple of British mapmakers. Instead, Teller explores Jerusalem and all its myriad peoples–not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but the Africans, Syrians, and other peoples that call the holy city their home.
In this interview, Matthew and I talk about how we should actually think about Jerusalem, and all the different people that make the city what it is today.
Matthew Teller writes for the BBC, The Guardian, Times of London, Financial Times, and other global media. He has produced and presented documentaries for BBC Radio and has reported for the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent program from around the Middle East and beyond. He is the author of several travel guides, including the Rough Guide to Jordan (Rough Guides, 2012). He is also the author of Quite Alone: Journalism from the Middle East 2008–2019. He can be followed on Twitter at @matthewteller.