Zion Gate

Zion Gate

Jerusalem Wall Holocaust Museum

Zion GateZion Gate Jerusalem, Israel

Like Damascus Gate, the Zion Gate (right) is one of eight gates in the Old Jerusalem wall. To visit the Holocaust Museum and Oskar Schindler's grave, you need to exit Old Jerusalem through Zion Gate.

Located near the southwestern tip of Old Jerusalem, Zion Gate leads from Mount Zion (hence its name) into the old city's Armenian and Jewish neighborhoods; local Arabs refer to Zion Gate as, "The Gate of the Jews."

For reasons that are apparent from the photo, Zion Gate is also called the "Wounded Gate." During the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, Arab forces laid siege to Old Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhood. To break the siege, Jewish militia attacked the Jordanian army unit guarding the Zion Gate. The pockmarks that encircle the Zion Gate are from the Jewish gunfire aimed at the Jordanians. They are from the bullets that missed their targets, so you can imagine how many more bullets were fired through the gate during the battle.

The Jewish militia succeeded in breaking the siege and reached the Jewish neighborhood, but wasn't able to hold its gains. When it retreated, it evacuated the Jews from the neighborhood. When Jordan ruled the neighborhood from 1948 until the 1967 war, Zion Gate remained shut.

Just outside the Zion Gate is the Armenian church dedicated to Caiaphas, the high priest who was the son-in-law of Annas, the high priest during Jesus' time in Israel:

While Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:

     “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
     ‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
     Make His paths straight.
     Every valley shall be filled
     And every mountain and hill brought low;
     The crooked places shall be made straight
     And the rough ways smooth;
     And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
(Luke 3:2-6)

How can there be two high priests?

Annas had been the high priest since 7 AD but the Romans found him hard to push around and told him to step down. He did so in 14 AD but installed his son-in-law in his place in 18 AD. So officially, Caiphas was the high priest. But the real power lay with his father-in-law, Annas, whom the Jews still considered to be the real high priest.

Neither Annas nor Caiaphas was a positive figure, so why a church would be dedicated to the latter remained a mystery to me.

Travel Tip
To the north (just walk along the wall) of the Zion Gate is the busier Jaffa Gate, from which the bustling Jaffa Road stretches westward into the modern New Jerusalem.

If you get tired of all of the history, as well as the lack of space in Old Jerusalem and yearn for a time warp back into the 21st century, exit the old city via Jaffa Gate, walk westward along Jaffa Road for about a quarter of a mile, and then turn left down the hill, where you will find modern restaurants, cafes, stores and other amenities, as well as open spaces.

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