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.

This is the gate nearest 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 Market

The gate is named after Damascus, 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, as below.

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. It was then called, "Bab al-Amud," which means, "Gate of the Column," and this is how the Arabs in Jerusalem still call this gate even though Hadrian's column was destroyed during the Byzantine era.

The gate was also called Saint Stephen's Gate by the Crusaders, referring to the first Christian martyr, but since 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" (Acts 7:51-60). After the Crusader era, the Lion Gate (see Jerusalem Wall) was referred to as Stephen's Gate.

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 soldiers, is advised.