Nature and Names of the Compound
Al-Muttala’ Hospital compound is a public park with a beautiful group of buildings, most prominent of which is the hospital building, the German Church of Ascension, the German Archaeological Institute (Hostel), a kindergarten, and technical workshops. The site was named after Augusta Victoria, wife of German Emperor Wilhelm II, both of whom visited Jerusalem in 1898. The land, which was a religious endowment (Waqf), was assigned to them against a specific amount of money. The assignment was in the form of a long-term lease which permitted the assignee to build and own property on it with the assigner’s approval.
The hospital cornerstone was laid in 1907. The Hostel and the Church of Ascension were built in 1910 and 1914, respectively, and the German and Turkish field leadership was stationed in the compound. With the British victory in World War I, the site became the headquarters of the British High Commissioner between 1917 and 1927. The British used the site as a military hospital in 1939, but with the 1948 Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), responsibility for the site was transferred to the World Lutheran Federation. This cooperated with the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA), in 1950, to make it a hospital, which it still is. In 1996, a cancer center and an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) clinic were added. It is currently one of Jerusalem’s prominent hospitals, providing medical services at the hands of Palestinian doctors and support teams.
A German European Style Church
The hospital, church, and tower building are the best example of 19th century European architecture common in Jerusalem. The church was built according to the Byzantine Wilhelmian Style after Emperor Wilhelm II. It has spectacular mosaic images representing the life and miracles of Jesus Christ. The church is 850 meters above sea level, 1300 meters above Dead Sea level, and is the highest point in Jerusalem. It has a huge tower, 45 meters high, offering a spectacular view over the city and its surroundings.
The Hospital Building
The hospital building is characterized by its perpendicular design around a middle courtyard, surrounded by two-floor high corridors on all four sides. Among the prominent architectural features are the column capitales, sculpted by local Palestinian masons, with each crown different from the other, and a variety of human, animal and plant motifs.