Abu Tor is bounded by the Valley of Hinnom on the north, by the Valley of Azal (Wadi Yasul/Nahal Azal) on the south, Hebron Road and the old Jerusalem Railway Station to the west, and the Sherover Promenade, Armon HaNetziv and Peace Forest to the south. The official Hebrew name of the neighborhood is Givat Hananya ("Hananya's Hill").
During the Ayyubid period, the area of Abu Tor was assigned to an officer in Saladin's army. His name was Sheikh Shehab ed Din el Mukaddasi but he was called "Sheikh Ahmed et Toreh" (Sheikh Ahmed of the bull) or "Abu Tor" (the man with the bull, or the father of the bull) as he was said to have accompanied Saladin riding on a bull.
The hill on which Abu Tor stands was called "Jebel Deir Abu Tor" (mountain of the monastery of Abu Tor), or the "Hill of Evil Counsel", referring to a legend that it was the site of the house of Caiaphas, where Judas plotted to betray Jesus. A monastery or convent dedicated to St. Mark (whose emblem was an ox) may have once been there.
Abu Tor was incorporated into the Jerusalem municipal district during the Mandate period.
From the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until 1967, the border between Israel and Jordan ran through Abu Tor. The first four roads beyond Hebron Road were Israeli and the remaining roads were Jordanian. In January 1949, Israel and Jordan, represented by Moshe Dayan and Abdullah el Tell, held talks on the status of Jerusalem. Dayan presented the partition of Jerusalem as a common interest, and offered an exchange of territories that included the military post in Abu Tor, but his offer was turned down.
Abu Tor is one of the few Jerusalem neighborhoods with a mixed Arab and Jewish population. Many journalists and United Nations employees live there. While the Jewish section of Abu Tor is predominantly secular, the neighborhood has two synagogues - Har Refaim Synagogue for Ashkenazi Jews on Nachshon Street, and Shalom V'Achva Synagogue for Sephardi Jews.
A large multiplex cinema, the Sherover complex, is now under construction in Abu Tor.  The center, just off Hebron Road, will house seven movie theaters, coffee shops and restaurants, an auditorium, a library, classrooms and art galleries.
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