Jerusalem Wall

Jerusalem Wall

Jerusalem Wall

Old Jerusalem Wall

Unlike the Wailing Wall, the wall encircling Old Jerusalem isn't the Biblically old one. The Roman army destroyed the last of those after sacking Jerusalem in 70 AD. The wall that encircles Old Jerusalem today was built by Suleiman in 1540, so it is only 5 centuries old.

About ten feet thick and up to fifty feet high, Suleiman's majestic wall around Jerusalem is dotted with forty-two bastions, including the one above facing 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 atop a hill with steep drop offs on its east, west and south sides, the weakest point of the city's wall 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 east toward Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount is the Golden Gate, through which the Jews of the Byzantine era claimed the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. To prevent this entry, Muslims sealed this gate during Suleiman's construction, but were too late.

North of the Golden Gate but still facing east 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, after the first Christian martyr, Stephen.

Opening northward from the northeast corner of the city is Herod's Gate, which along with the Damascus Gate, serves Jerusalem's northeastern, Arab/Muslim neighborhood. At the northwest corner is the New Gate, opened in 1889 to provide easier access into the city's Christian neighborhood. In this ancient city, a century is still considered "New."

South of the New Gate and facing west is the bustling Jaffa Gate.* South of the Jaffa Gate at the city's southwest corner is the Zion Gate, which opens onto Mount Zion and Oskar Schindler's Grave, and facing south from east of it is the Dung Gate, through which Jerusalem's garbage used to be disposed. Southeast of the Dung Gate is the City of David, Hezekiah's Tunnel and Gihon Spring.

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 public 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.

* The "Christian Information Center," which occupies a prominent location at Jaffa Gate, is Roman Catholic and run by nuns and priests who wear civilian clothes and direct Christian visitors to Catholic sites instead of the Biblical Golgotha and Tomb of Jesus.