Zion Gate

Zion Gate

Zion Gate Jerusalem, IsraelZion Gate (right), another one of the eight gates (see Damascus Gate) in the Old Jerusalem Wall, is located near its southwestern tip. Zion Gate leads from Mount Zion (hence its name) into the old city's Armenian and Jewish neighborhoods (local Arabs call Zion Gate, "The Gate of the Jews"). Exit Old Jerusalem through the Zion Gate to visit the Holocaust Museum and Oskar Schindler's grave.

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, the Jewish militia attacked the Jordanian army unit guarding Zion Gate. The pockmarks that encircle the gate are from the Jewish gunfire aimed at the Jordanians. They are from the bullets that missed their targets, so many more were fired through the gate.

The Jewish militia succeeded in breaking the siege and reached the Jewish neighborhood but wasn't able to hold its ground. 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 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' ministry 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. Both Annas and Caiaphas were hypocrites (see Jesus' Tomb), so the rationale for dedicating a church to the latter was elusive.

Travel Tip
To the north (just walk along the wall) of Zion Gate is the busier Jaffa Gate, from which the bustling Jaffa ("Yafo") Road stretches northwest into the modern West Jerusalem. If you get tired of the lack of space in Old Jerusalem and yearn for some space, as well as a time warp back into the 21st century, exit the old city via Jaffa Gate and walk northwest along Yafo Road. After about a quarter of a mile, you will start to see restaurants and cafes. For more of them, continue another quarter of a mile and turn left at Tsiyon (Zion) Square.