Old City Jerusalem

| July 18, 2012 | 2 Comments
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Old City Jerusalem: Lions Gate

Eitan J.  Public Domain
Lions Gate Jerusalem

Jerusalem Old City Ramparts Walk

Instead of seeing Jerusalem’s Old City from the ground, why not take a walk along the Old City walls to get a different perspective?  The Ramparts Walk is a self-guided tour made up of two parts—the northern walk and the southern walk; both start on different sides of Jaffa Gate.

Northern Walk: The northern walk takes you along the Old City walls surrounding the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter, ending near the Lions Gate in the eastern wall.

Southern Walk: The southern section begins on the right side of Jaffa Gate at the Tower of David and includes Zion Gate, the Jewish Quarter, and ends at Dung Gate near the Western Wall.

Jerusalem History: Ancient City Walls

Each Ramparts Walk will take the average person about three hours and should not be attempted in the heat of the day or by anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs.  No matter which route you choose, walking the ramparts will give you a taste of the history of Jerusalem.  Built in the 16th century by the Ottoman ruler Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, these ramparts were patrolled by Turkish soldiers for 400 years.

As you climb the stairs, look out for the slits that were used to fire arrows at approaching intruders. As you walk along the walls, you’ll get a stunning look at the valleys surrounding the Old City as well as the fascinating neighborhoods within it.

Jerusalem Old City: Mount of Olives

Daniel Gelb  All rights reserved
Mount of Olives

Old City Jerusalem Sites

On the southern walk, beginning on the Tower of David side of Jaffa Gate, the first area you’ll see outside the Old City walls is the border that divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967.

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Jerusalem will be right in front of you—the minaret of the Ottoman mosque at the edge of the David’s Citadel.  Often mistakenly called the Tower of David, it’s actually part of a fortress built in the Middle Ages.

As you continue, the cathedrals of the Armenian Quarter will appear before you, as well as some of the uniquely shaped churches on Mt. Zion, with its many historic and religious sites – holy to Jews, Christians, and Moslems.

There are stunning views over the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives cemetery, but be sure to look over to your right (to the south) where, on a clear day, the verse from the Psalms: “Jerusalem, hills surround her…” will come to life.

Hurva Synagogue Dome in the Old City

Daniel Gelb  All rights reserved
Hurva Synagogue Dome

Old City Northern Ramparts Walk

If you choose the northern Old City Ramparts Walk, the sights will be quite different for a good portion of the way. Right at the start of the walk, stop for a moment and take in the red tiled roofs of Yemin Moshe and the adjacent windmill. This neighborhood, built in the 1890s by British Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore, was the first neighborhood built outside the Old City walls.

Continuing on, there will be fascinating views of the houses, courtyards and towers of the Christian Quarter, and eventually the most beautiful of all the Old City gates—Damascus Gate.  See if you can spot the remains of the Roman victory column that once stood in the gate’s plaza.  From here, the glistening Dome of the Rock as well as Al Aqsa Mosque are visible, and you can watch the energetic shopping activity in the packed lanes of the commercial section of the Moslem Quarter without getting jostled.

Gugganij  CC BY-SA 3.0Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

Gugganij  CC BY-SA 3.0
Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

Jaffa Gate Jerusalem: Did You Know?

Here is some Old City Jerusalem Trivia: Did you know that there was no break in the wall at Jaffa Gate until 1898, when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany made a state visit and insisted on entering Jerusalem on his horse in the same way as the Crusaders did when they conquered the city? The only way he could do it was to breach the wall.

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Category: Archaeological, Historical, Jerusalem, Touring

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