FROM ST. JOHN TO MOUNT ZION
Members of the Order of St. John, a British charitable organization dating back to the time of the Crusades, arrived in the Holy Land in 1882 with the aim of founding an eye hospital. They purchased land just outside the Old City walls opposite Mount Zion and overlooking the Hinnom Valley, and built the hospital which served Muslims, Jews, and Christians from all over the Middle East.
During the First World War, the Turks took over the building, turned it into an arms warehouse and destroyed parts of it. This damage, coupled with the results of an earthquake in the 1920s, made repairs necessary.
The War of Independence in 1948 meant that contact with Israelis blockaded in the Jewish Quarter was possible only by means of a cable car, running from a point on Mount Zion to a room in the old hospital building. It was used during the night to transfer medicine and arms to Mount Zion, and the wounded to the hospital. During the day the cable was lowered to the ground so as not to be seen by the enemy.
Today, a small museum, maintained by the Jerusalem Municipality, can be found on the premises where visitors can see the cable car and its mechanism, together with photographs and souvenirs from the period.