Photo of the Houses of the Lower City in the Second Temple Model of Jerusalem
On the southeast hill was the Lower City, the ancient city of Jerusalem's core and on its slopes were the crowded houses of the poor. Josephus referred to the spur of the city of David as the "Acra" and the Second Temple Jerusalem model shows the lower city and all of the small crowded houses of the common people. The Upper City was very wealthy and the homes were prominent, and the streets were big and broad.
Once past one of the gates, you would face a maze of dusty streets and alleyways, running uphill and down in every direction. As you made your way toward the temple, you would hear sounds of voices, the clatter of hooves and odors of cooking food. Along the Small Market street in the Lower City, you would pass open-air shops where Jerusalem's craftsmen sat at work: the city's weavers, dyers, potters, bakers, tailors, carpenters and metalworkers. Farther along you would enter the colorful bazaar, where merchants sold fruits and vegetables, dried fish, sacrificial animals, clothes, perfumes and jewelry. The market street was always crowded and busy, especially on Mondays and Thursdays, the main market days, when citizens and visitors came there to buy goods or souvenirs. Perishable goods were on sale every day. Only on the Sabbath was the street empty and quiet. After traveling you could stop to rest at one of Jerusalem's many taverns or restaurants. There you could select from a menu offering fresh or salted fish, fried locusts, vegetables, soup, pastry and fruit. You could drink local wine or imported beer. The farmers of Jerusalem, like their rural cousins, went out each morning to tend their crops. Most of them worked in the rich olive groves that covered the surrounding hillsides and provided the city's only major export. Jerusalem's numerous craftsmen had for a long time been organized into professional groups and most of them worked in public shops. The members of each group lived in a cluster of houses in a particular section of the city and they usually had their own synagogue. In Jesus' time, there were at least 480 synagogues in Jerusalem.