In 1873, after establishing colonies in Haifa and Jaffa, members of the Templer sect from Wurttemberg, Germany, settled on a large area of land in the Refaim Valley, southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. Emek Refaim (Valley of Refaim) is mentioned in the Books of Joshua and Samuel. The name is derived from a legendary race of giants who lived here in biblical times. The German Colony was built as a garden suburb with luxurious houses in the style common to German villages of the time. Fruit trees and vegetable gardens were abundant giving the area a real rural feel. During World War II the Templars were deported by the Brittish Mandate. At this point many wealthy Christian Arab families moved to this expanding and developing neighborhood because of its great location. Then, during the war of Independence the Arabs fled the neighborhood. The abandoned homes in the German Colony and other parts of Katamon were used to house new immigrants. Since this time the area has experienced great renewal.
Today the Moshava (The Colony), as it is popularly known, is an upscale neighborhood bisected by Emek Refaim Street, an avenue lined with trendy shops, restaurants and cafes and boutiques. This is a very popular spot for meeting up with friends and evenings out in Jerusalem. Walk down this street and you are sure to hear more English than Hebrew! Today, efforts are being made to restore old landmark buildings and incorporate some of their architectural features, such as arched windows and tiled roofs, in new construction. You may also notice that the side streets of the German Colony are named for Gentile supporters of Zionism and the Jewish people including Emile Zola, David Lloyd George, and Josiah Wedgewood. The neighborhood is home to the Smadar Theater, Jerusalem's arthouse cinema, The Natural Science Museum, and The International Cultural and Community Center.