Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

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Damascus Gate Jerusalem

Damascus Gate - Jerusalem

Damascus Gate is the main point of entry into the Arab/Muslim East Jerusalem, which occupies the northeastern one-half of Old Jerusalem. Damascus Gate is the busiest of the eight gates in the medieval wall that encloses the Old City.

The gate is named after Damascus, the capital of Syria located some 135 miles (about 220 kilometers) to the north, which it faces. Damascus Gate is also called the Shechem Gate, after the city to which the major road just outside leads.

Damascus Gate has been called by other names in its long history. 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 Crusaders called it Saint Stephen's Gate after the first century deacon whose sermon to the Jewish leaders was so courageous that Jesus stood up from His throne and immediately promoted him to heaven (Since other gates are closer to the temple precinct, 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)

Travel Tip
Everything is cheaper in the Old Jerusalem's northeastern Arab neighborhood, which is poorer, more densely populated, and more lively than the other neighborhoods. The merchants in the Old City's western neighborhoods warned about the mortal dangers of venturing northeast for the lower prices, but they were just trying to make me spend money with them. I went into the northeastern neighborhood, including to the lively market just inside the wall above on my own and never had any problems, even late at night.

Travel Update: Israel's security situation remains dynamic especially in East Jerusalem. If visiting the city, please speak with the local expatriates for real-time information before venturing into the city's northeastern neighborhood.

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