The Jaffa gate is now the main gate into the old city as it faces the new city. The Jaffa gate has also been used since ancient times to mark kilometer 0 in the holy land. The Lion's gate faces the mount of Olives and Jeosphat valley where the main cemetaries of Jerusalem are. The Lion's gate also is close to the start of the Via Dolorosa.
Also known as St Stephen's Gate, Lion's Gate is regarded as the location of the last entrance by Christ from the Garden of Gethsemane and his walk to his crucifixion. In effect, the gate is seen by many as the beginning of the Via Dolorosa.
The present structure of course would not have been around, built as it was in the 16th century. Ironically, the gate is decorated with the figures of four panthers rather than lions. It is one of the 7 gates that remain open in the walls and ramparts surrounding the old city and is the closest to the christian sites of the Mount of Olives.
Also next to the Muslim Quarter and not far from Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate is also called Flower Gate (Sha'ar HaPerahim in Hebrew and Bab as-Zahra in Arabic).
Less grand than some of the other, older gates (Herod's Gate is one of the newest leadng to Jerusalem's Old City), the gate got its second name - Flower Gate - from the flower design that can be seen on its outer side. Still, much grander than a wicker gate that stood in its place during Suleiman's reign in 16th C!
The name 'Herod's Gate' has been given to it by pilgrims who believed that Herod Antipas of the Bible had his palace here.
Since we were staying in East Jerusalem, Damascus Gate was the main gateway to the Old City. it's also known as Shechem Gate, or Nablus Gate (we were walking up Nablus Rd. to get there), or also Bab el-Amud (Column Gate)
The current gate, built during the reign of Sultan Suleiman, has replaced a much older one that stood on the same spot since ca. 90BC, when it was the main entrance to the city. Hadrian pretty much rebuilt it in 2nd century AD, but this was still not enough for Suleiman, who embarked on his own reconstruction in the mid-16th C. There used to be a column with Madaba map, dating back to Hadrian'reign (hence the Column Gate name), but this is long gone.
Damascus Gate is also the start of the Souk, with stalls selling everything from cinnamon whirls (very tasty!) and herbs to the latest (pirated) dvds.
The Dung Gate is not as large as the Jaffa Gate or as visually pleasing as the Damascus Gate but it does have an important feature that makes it a very popular gate, its right by the Western Wall and Temple Mount. As a result its one of the busiest gates in the Old City and during the day there is always a long line of tour buses parked on the street leading to the Dung Gate.
This the most popular and well known of all the gates of the Old City as it has the largest entrance of all the gates. Most buses stop at Jaffa Gate and taxis are always congregating around this gate as well. From within Jaffa Gate there is the Information Center which is a great place to get help planning your visit to Jerusalem as well as a free map. The Tower of David is part of the Jaffa Gate and there is also a Post Office just inside the gate as well. In short Jaffa Gate ends up being a staple of almost any tourists visit to the Old City.
Of all the gates in Jerusalem the Damascus Gate is the most visually pleasing, its the one gate the looks the most like an original entrance to the Old City back in the day. There are large steps that form what looks like a ampitheatre with the Damascus Gate as a backdrop. Its kind of like the Israeli version of the Spanish Steps. Its a great place to sit in the sun and people watch, its also a center of activity. Just north of the gate is the Garden Tomb and within the gate is a flurry of vendors selling just about everything you can imagine. Of all the gates in the Old City I found the Damascus gate to be the one that matched the gates of Jerusalem that I had always imagined.
There are many old gates and they are outstanding. You probably need to read a little history for each of them to understand and appreciate their significance.
We didn't cover them all, but wandered through Damascus Gate, Lions Gate (good access to Mount of Olives) and Jaffa Gate (the main entrance).
There are several places where one can relax, sipping a glass of wine or whatever and enjoy a beautiful view of the Jaffa Gate and the walls of Jerusalem. For example St.Andrews Scottish hostel, King David Hotel balcony, Begin Center balcony, David Citadel Hotel.
St Stephens- or Sheep-Gate,known in Hebrew as the Lion's Gate. Legend has it, that the lions engraved on both sides of the gate were placed there by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, because he had dreamed that he would be devoured by lions unless he built a wall around the Holy City for the defence of the citizens.It was built in the years 1538 and 1539
Lions Gate is one of the seven gates of the old city wall of Jerusalem;located in the east wall, the entrance marks the beginning of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of Jesus from prison to execution, the Via Dolorosa. Near the gate’s crest are four figures of lions, two on the left and two on the right.
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