Temporary exhibition go back in time at Kalandiya airport

A temporary exhibit on the now-decommissioned Kalandiya Airport, known as Jerusalem International Airport during the 19 years that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan ruled the eastern half of divided Jerusalem, opened on Thursday (October 28) in the Albright Institute of Archeology at 26 Salah ad -Din Street.

Called “Gateway to the World: Jerusalem Airport 1948-1967”, the photographic exhibition documents the glamorous “golden age” of the airport and its past role in the economic and social life of Jordanian Jerusalem. Juxtaposing historical and contemporary images, “then” versus “now”, the exhibition includes historical photographs from the family archive of Dr. Mohammad Al-Qutob and contemporary images of the abandoned runway, passenger terminal and air traffic control tower. by the photographer Arik. Shraga, said curator Natalia Kopelyanskaya.

Passengers experience the propeller planes of the era, architecture and fashion of another century when Jerusalem was linked by more than 20 weekly flights to Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Kuwait and Aden, as well as Rome and other capitals. of Europe. No fewer than 17 different airlines, mostly born out of the constant merging and splitting of a handful of Arab-flagged airlines, served Kalandiya, which, despite its modest size and humble facilities, was established as a hub when the Overland route to the city involved circumnavigating. Israel through long walks on poorly paved roads, historian Eldad Brin said.

Among the airlines that offer scheduled flights are the Lebanese airlines Air Liban and Middle East Airlines (which merged in 1964), Egypt Air and Air Jordan (now Royal Jordanian).

Kalandiya, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, was opened in 1925 as the first civilian airstrip in the Palestinian Mandate. Lydda Airport, today Ben-Gurion, followed nine years later. The popularity of Jerusalem Airport coincided with the global boom in commercial aviation after World War II, made possible by affordable flights on ever-improving planes. Jordan upgraded and lengthened the unpaved runway and built a terminal building.

The exhibition documents the glamorous ‘golden age’ of the airport (credit: Archives of Dr. Mohammad Al-Qutob)

Much busier than its counterpart in Zizya, 20 kilometers south of Amman, now called Queen Alia International Airport, Kalandiya drew hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, including countless dignitaries. Powering the construction of dozens of hotels, the airport was a key element in Jerusalem’s pilgrimage and tourism industry and contributed greatly to its cosmopolitan air.

Although this international service ended with the 1967 Six Day War, Jerusalem airport continued with limited Israeli domestic use until 2001. Following sniper attacks from nearby buildings during the Second Intifada, the airport, named Atarot by Israel , stopped operating. It has been abandoned ever since.

Plans call for the construction of thousands of apartments where planes used to land and take off.

The exhibition has been initiated and coordinated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, whose office in Jerusalem houses a unique Palestinian-Israeli team.

“Gateway to the World: Jerusalem Airport 1948-1967” is open until November 28 at the Albright Institute, 26 Salah ad-Din Street, Jerusalem. Sunday to Thursday: 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (except Tuesday, November 9), Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


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