Between the grassy expanse of Independence Park and the tiled boulevard of the ultra-posh Mamilla Mall lies the historic Mamilla Cemetery. The site has been around since Byzantine times and houses several impressive Mamluk mausoleums and Sufi shrines. The Mamilla Pool at the center of the cemetery is one of three reservoirs built by Herod the Great in the first century BCE. Like much of the cemetery, the pool, too, has fallen into disrepair since the 1948 War of Independence.
Several years ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Center announced plans to build a Center of Human Dignity – part of its Museum of Tolerance – at the northwestern corner of the cemetery, which had for years been a parking lot. The move garnered an outcry from various academic circles and Muslim authorities and was stalled for several years. For the time being, visitors can still soak in the muted splendor of the gravestones and mausoleums of the Mamilla Cemetery as they shuttle between the various shopping centers of downtown Jerusalem.