Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

The Damascus Gate, the busiest among the eight gates in the medieval Jerusalem Wall, serves the Arab East Jerusalem which occupies the northeastern half of Old Jerusalem.

The Damascus Gate is also the gate that is nearest to the two most important Biblical sites in Jerusalem: Golgotha, just across the street, and Jesus' Tomb, which is 90 meters away. Above is the Damascus Gate viewed from outside Old Jerusalem, and below is the gate viewed from inside of it.

Damascus Gate

The Damascus Gate is named after the capital of Syria located some 135 miles (220 kilometers) to the north, which it faces. It is also called the Shechem Gate, after the city to which the major road just outside of it leads, and has been called by other names.

After crushing the second Jewish revolt and sacking Jerusalem in the 2nd century AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a victory column outside the precursor to the current Damascus Gate. That gate was called, "Bab al-Amud," which means, "Gate of the Column," and this is how the Arabs in Jerusalem still call Damascus Gate even though Hadrian's column was destroyed during the Byzantine era.

The Damascus Gate was called Saint Stephen's Gate by the Crusaders, referring to the first century deacon whose sermon to the Jewish leaders was so courageous that Jesus rose from His throne and immediately promoted him to heaven (since the other gates are closer to the Temple Mount, which is quite far from Damascus Gate, it is unlikely to have the been the gate through which "they cast him out of the city and stoned him"):

“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60)

After the Crusader era, the Lion Gate was referred to as Stephen's Gate (see Jerusalem Wall).

Travel Tip
The prices are cheaper in Old Jerusalem's northeastern Arab neighborhood, which is more densely populated and poorer than the other Old Jerusalem neighborhoods. Merchants in western neighborhoods will warn you about the dangers of venturing northeast for the lower prices but many tourists do just that, including to the lively market (above) just inside the Damascus Gate. However, Israeli soldiers stationed just outside the gate have been stabbed and shot in recent years so vigilance, especially when near the soldiers, is advised.