Jerusalem Wall

Jerusalem Wall

Damascus Gate Zion Gate
Jerusalem Wall

Old Jerusalem Wall

The majestic Old Jerusalem wall isn't the biblically old one. The Roman army destroyed the last of those walls after sacking Jerusalem in 70 AD. The wall that encircles Old Jerusalem today was built by Suleiman in 1540, so it is only five centuries old.

About ten feet thick and up to fifty feet high, Suleiman's wall around Jerusalem is dotted with forty-two defensive lookout post, including the one above, which looks out to the south. The wall is about three miles long and encloses Old Jerusalem roughly in the shape of a trapezoid.

Given the topography of Old Jerusalem, which sits on a hill top with steep drop offs on its east, west and south sides, the weakest point of every wall built to protect Jerusalem was its northern facade, through which every successful breach in its history occurred.

The Old Jerusalem wall has eight gates. Counter clock-wise from the Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque currently sit, they are as below.

Facing eastward from the Temple Mount is the Golden Gate, through which Jews of the Byzantine era claimed the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. To prevent the entry of the Messiah who already has come,* the Muslims sealed this gate during Suleiman's construction.

North of the Golden Gate but still facing eastward is the Lion's Gate, named after the two pairs of relief lion figures that flank the gate. This gate is also known as Stephen's Gate, named after the first Christian martyr.

Opening northward from the northeast corner of the city is Herod's Gate, which along with Damascus Gate, serves Jerusalem's northeastern Arab/Muslim neighborhood.

At the northwestern corner of Jerusalem is the New Gate, opened in 1889 to provide easier access into the city's Christian neighborhood. In this ancient city, a century is considered new.

South of the New Gate and facing westward is the bustling Jaffa Gate. Be advised that the "Christian Information Center" occupying a prominent location at Jaffa Gate is Roman Catholic and run by nuns and priests wearing civilian clothes who direct unsuspecting Christian visitors to the Holy Sepulcher Church instead of the Biblical Golgotha and the Biblical Jesus' tomb.

South of the Jaffa Gate at the city's southwest corner is the Zion Gate, which opens onto Mount Zion, and facing south from east of it is the Dung Gate through which Jerusalem's garbage used to be disposed.

* The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:19-26; also see Why was Jesus crucified? and Jesus tomb).

Travel Tip
From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, the vast majority of Jewish businesses in Israel shut in observance of the Sabbath. This includes shops and restaurants, as well as transportation; bus and train departures stop at around 2 PM on Friday to enable arrival before sunset and don't resume until sunset on Saturday.

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