During the era of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, there
were four gates to the Old City, one on each side. The current
walls, built by Suleiman the Magnificent, have a total of
eleven gates, but only seven are open. Until 1887, each gate
was closed before sunset and opened at sunrise. As indicated
by the chart below, these gates have been known by a variety
of names used in different historic periods and by different
The New Gate (Arabic: باب الجديد Bab al-Jedid; Hebrew: השער
החדש HaSha'ar HeChadash) is the newest gate in Jerusalem's Old
City Walls, built in 1898 to provide direct access to the
Christian Quarter for the visit of the German Emperor William
It is also called the Gate of Hammid after the Ottoman Sultan
Abdul Hamid II. The gate is located in the northwestern part
of the wall and faces north.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when Jordan captured East
Jerusalem (which includes the Old City of Jerusalem) it was
sealed off. It was reopened again in 1967 after Israel's
capture of East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
The Damascus Gate (also known as Shechem Gate or Nablus
Gate) (Hebrew: שער שכם, Sha'ar Shkhem, Arabic: باب العامود,
Bab-al-Amud, meaning Gate of the Column) is an important
gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The modern gate was built
in 1542 by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent.
The original gate was presumably built in Second Temple
times. The Romans built a new gate at the time of Hadrian,
in the second century AD. In front of the gate stood a Roman
victory column, shown on the Madaba Map, thus giving the
gate its name in Arabic to this day, Bab el-Amud, The Column
Gate. The column has never been found, but the Roman gate
can be seen today, due to excavations made during the
British mandate. This was the northern entrance gate to the
city at the time of the Crusades.
The gate has two towers, each equipped with machicolations.
It is located at the edge of the Arab bazaar and
marketplace. In contrast to the Jaffa Gate, where stairs
rise towards the gate, in the Damascus Gate, the stairs
descend towards the gate. In 1972, right-wing activist rabbi
Meir Kahane proposed that a mezuzah be affixed to the gate,
to secure the Jewish claim to the gate. After repeated
protests from Arab residents, the Israeli government refused
to consider Kahane's proposal. Today, only three of the Old
City's gates have mezuzot attached.
While the proper English name of the gate is "Damascus
Gate", in Hebrew it is called Sha'ar Shechem, meaning
"Shechem (Nablus) Gate". Israeli media therefore frequently
refer to the gate as 'Shechem (Nablus) Gate' in English
language publications as well. In either case, the name
refers to a city north of Jerusalem, since the Damascus Gate
is the main north-facing gate of the Old City.
Herod's Gate (Hebrew: שער הפרחים Translit.: Sha'ar
HaPerachim Translated: Gate of the flowers, Arabic: باب
الساهرة) is a gate in the walls of the Old City of
Jerusalem. Its elevation is 755 meters above sea level. It
adjoins the Muslim Quarter, and is a short distance to the
east of the Damascus Gate. In proximity to the gate is an
Arab neighborhood called Bab a-Zahara, a variation of the
Arabic name for the gate.
This modest gate is one of the newest gates of Jerusalem. At
the time when Suleiman the Magnificent built the wall, a
small wicket gate was situated in front of the current gate,
which was rarely opened. By 1875, in order to provide a
passageway to the neighborhoods which were beginning to
develop north of the Old City, the Ottomans made a breach in
the northern part of the structure and closed the original
The gate is named after Herod the Great. That is because in
the Crusaders' period a church was built near the gate in
the belief that at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus,
Herod Antipas's house was situated at that spot. In its
place today stands the church of Dir Al Ads.
In 1998 and during several subsequent excavation seasons
(the latest in 2004), archaeologists of the Israel
Antiquities Authority dug in the eastern area of Herod's
Gate. The digging focused on three separate areas adjacent
to the wall, in which nine archeological layers were
discovered – covering from the Iron age up through the
Turkish period. Among the most significant discoveries were
structures from the period of the Second Temple, a complete
segment of the Byzantine-Roman wall, and remnants of massive
construction underneath the wall. These remnants were
identified as portions of a fortification from the ancient
Muslim period and from the Middle Ages. These discoveries
point out the importance which the rulers of the city gave
to the fortification of one of its most sensitive places-the
northern wall of Jerusalem-as historical accounts indicate
that circa 1099 the Crusader soldiers in the command of
Godfrey of Bouillon entered the city through a breach
located in proximity to the present Herod's Gate.
The Lions' Gate (Hebrew: שער האריות, Arabic: باب الأسباط,
also St. Stephen's Gate or Sheep Gate) is located in the Old
City Walls of Jerusalem and is one of seven open Gates in
Jerusalem's Old City Walls.
Located in the east wall, the entrance marks the beginning
of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of
Jesus from prison to crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa. Near the
gate’s crest are four figures of panthers, often mistaken
for lions, two on the left and two on the right. They were
placed there by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to celebrate
the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in 1517. Legend has it
that Suleiman's predecessor Selim I was captured by lions
that were going to eat him because of his plans to level the
city. He was spared only after promising to protect the city
by building a wall around it. This led to the lion becoming
the heraldic symbol of Jerusalem.
In another version, Suleiman taxed
Jerusalem's residents with heavy taxes which they could not
afford to pay. That night Suleiman had a dream of two lions
coming to devour him. When he woke up, he asked his dream
solvers what his dream meant. A wise respected man came
forward and asked Suleiman what was on his mind before
drifting to sleep. Suleiman responded that he was thinking
about how to punish all the men who didn't pay his taxes.
The wise man responded that since Suleiman thought badly
about the holy city, God was angry. To atone, Suleiman built
the Lions' Gate to protect Jerusalem from invaders.
Israeli paratroops from the 55th Paratroop Brigade came
through this gate during the Six-Day War of 1967 and
unfurled the Israeli flag above the Temple Mount.
The Lions' Gate is not to be confused with the Zion Gate in
the Old City Wall, located in the south, leading to the
Jewish and Armenian Quarters.
The magnificent walls of Jerusalem's Old City were built by
the Ottoman Empire under the direct supervision of Sultan
Suleiman in 1542. The walls stretch for approximately 4.5
kilometers (2.8 miles) and rise to a height of 5–15 meters
(16–49 feet), with a thickness of 3 meters (10 feet).
Altogether, the Old City walls contain 43 surveillance
towers and 11 gates, seven of which are presently open.
The Dung Gate (also known as Sha'ar Ha'ashpot, Gate of
Silwan, Mograbi Gate, Arabic: باب المغاربة) is one of the
gates in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The gate is situated near the southeast corner of the old
city, southwest of the Temple Mount.
The gate is the closest to the Western Wall and is a main
passage for vehicles. It was originally much smaller, but
was enlarged in 1952, after the Old City came under
Jordanian control in 1948. After its capture by Israel in
1967, architect Shlomo Aronson was commissioned to renovate
this gate. Directly behind the gate lies the entrance to
the Western Wall compound. At night, Egged city buses pass
through the gate to the Western Wall bus stop, which lies
just behind the gate; during the day, the buses stop on the
road outside the gate, because the increased number of buses
had cluttered up the bus stop inside the Old City walls.
The name Sha'ar Ha'ashpot appears in the Book of
Nehemiah:3:13-14. It is probably named after the residue
that was taken from the Jewish Temple into the Valley of
Hinnom, where it was burned. This ancient "Dung Gate" may
not have been in the same location as the modern gate.
The name Mograbi gate (Bab al-Magharibeh) refers to the
Moroccan Quarter or (Mughrabi quarter) now destructed, which
was situated near the area.
Zion Gate (Hebrew: שער ציון, Shaar Zion, Arabic: باب النبي
داود, Bab an-Nabi Dawud) is one of eight gates in the walls
of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Located in the south of the Old City, facing Mount Zion and
Hebron, the Zion Gate leads into the Armenian and Jewish
Quarters. Zion Gate is also known as David's Gate (Arabic:
Bab el-Daoud; Hebrew: Shaar David), because the tomb of King
David is believed to be on Mt. Zion. The gate was built for
Suleiman the Magnificent in 1540. In the 19th century, an
area close to the gate was the gathering place of lepers.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Palmach gained control of
the Jewish Quarter via the Zion Gate. The stones surrounding
the gate were pockmarked by weapons fire and bullet holes
that are still visible today. The last British troops
leaving Jerusalem on May 13, 1948, presented Mordechai
Weingarten with the key to the gate. The gate was under the
rule of Jordan until the Six-Day War.
Both pedestrians and vehicles use the gate, although
maneuvering is difficult due to the L-shaped passageway.
Until recently, there was two-way vehicular traffic passing
through the gate. Today cars can exit but not enter the Old
City via this gate.
Jaffa Gate (Hebrew: שער יפו, Sha'ar Yafo; Arabic: باب الخليل, Bab el-Khalil, "Gate of the Friend"; also Arabic, Bab Mihrab Daud, "Gate
of the Prayer Niche of David"; also David's Gate) is a stone portal in the historic walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is one of
eight gates in Jerusalem's Old City walls.
Jaffa Gate is the only one of the Old City gates positioned at a right angle to the wall. This could have been done as a defensive
measure to slow down oncoming attackers, or to orient it in the direction of Jaffa Road, from which pilgrims arrived at the end of
their journey from the port of Jaffa.
Both the Jaffa Gate and Jaffa Road are named after the port of Jaffa, from whence Jonah embarked on his Biblical sea journey and
pilgrims debarked on their trip to the Holy City. The modern-day Highway 1, which starts from the western end of Jaffa Road, completes
the same route to Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
The Arabic name for the gate, Bab el-Khalil (Gate of the Friend), refers to Abraham, the beloved of God who is buried in Hebron. Since
Abraham lived in Hebron, another name for Jaffa Gate is "Hebron Gate". The Arabs also called this gate Bab Mihrab Daud (Gate of the
Prayer Niche of David), since King David is considered a prophet by Islam. The Crusaders, who rebuilt the citadel to the south of Jaffa
Gate, also built a gate behind the present location of Jaffa Gate, calling it "David's Gate".
Like the stones used for the rest of the Old City walls, the stones of Jaffa Gate are large, hewn, sand-colored blocks. The entryway
stands about 20 feet (6 meters) high, and the wall rises another 20 feet above that.
Jaffa Gate was inaugurated in 1538 as part of the rebuilding of the Old City walls by Suleiman the Magnificent.
These tombs are believed to be those of the architects of the Old City walls.
Just inside the gate, behind an iron grating on the left, lie two tombs. These are believed to be the graves of the two architects whom
Suleiman commissioned to construct the Old City walls. According to legend, when Suleiman saw that the architects had left Mount Zion
and the tomb of King David out of the enclosure, he ordered them killed. However, in deference to their impressive achievement, he had
them buried inside the walls next to Jaffa Gate.
In 1908, a clock tower was built near the gate to serve the developing business district in the area. The tower lasted only a decade: it
was knocked down by the British when they occupied Jerusalem.
In 1917, British general Edmund Allenby entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, giving a speech at the nearby Tower of David.
Allenby entered the city on foot in a show of respect for the city and a desire to avoid comparison with the Kaiser's entry in 1898. The
British demolished other buildings adjoining the city wall in 1944 in an attempt to preserve Jerusalem's historic vistas.
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Israeli forces fought hard to connect the Jewish Quarter of the Old City with Israeli-held western
Jerusalem by controlling the Jaffa Gate. On the evening of May 18, 1948, the Haganah launched a frontal assault on the gate but were
beaten back with heavy losses. With a Jordanian victory in 1948, Israeli forces were not able to gain control of the gate until the
Six Day War in 1967.
In 2000 Pope John Paul II came through Jaffa Gate to the Old City during his visit in Israel in the Holy Year.
Inside Jaffa Gate is a small square with entrances to the Christian Quarter (on the left), Muslim Quarter (straight ahead) and the
Armenian Quarter (to the right, past the Tower of David). A tourist information office and shops line the square. The entrance to the
Muslim Quarter is part of the Arab shuk (marketplace).
The gate's location is determined by the city's topography, located along the valley followed by Jaffa Road into the old city, between
the northern hill of the Acra and the southern hill of Mount Zion. The road and the valley it follows continue eastward and down into
the Tyropoeon Valley, bisecting the northern and southern halves of the city, with the Christian and Muslim Quarters to the north, and
Armenian and Jewish Quarters to the south.
Running along the Old City walls south of Jaffa Gate is the Tower of David, a Jerusalem landmark that dates back to antiquity. The
current tower was built during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. It is called the Tower of David because the foundations of the
tower go back to King David's times with the building of the first tower on the site, as described in the Hebrew Bible.
Jaffa Gate is heavily used by pedestrians and vehicles alike. In the early 2000s, the road straddling the gate was moved further west
and a plaza constructed in its stead to connect Jaffa Gate with the soon-to-be-built Mamilla shopping mall across the street.
In 2010, the Israel Antiquities Authority completed a two-month restoration and cleaning of Jaffa Gate as part of a $4 million project
begun in 2007 to renovate the length of the Old City walls. The clean-up included replacing broken stones, cleaning the walls of
decades of car exhaust, and reattaching an elaborate Arabic inscription erected at the gate's original dedication in 1593. Bullet
fragments in the gate, from fighting in the War of Independence, were preserved. Infrastructure work beside Jaffa Gate also uncovered
an ancient aqueduct dating from the second or third century A.D.