The Walls of Jerusalem (Hebrew: חומות ירושלים) surround the
area of the old city of Jerusalem (approx. 1 km²). The walls
were built between the years 1535–1538, during the reign of
the Ottoman empire in the region of Palestine, by the
Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
The length of the wall is 4,018 km (2,496.6 mi), their
average height is 12 meters (39.37 feet) and the average
thickness of walls is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The walls also
contain 34 watchtowers and 8 gates.
In 1981, The Jerusalem walls were added, along with the Old
City of Jerusalem, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.
The walls of Jerusalem, which were built originally to
protect the borders of the city against intrusions, mainly
serve as an attraction for tourists since it ceased to serve
as a means of protection for the city.
The city of Jerusalem has been surrounded by walls for its
defense since ancient times. In the middle Bronze Age, a
period also known as the Patriarchs period, a city named
Jebos was built in the location of today's Jerusalem, which
was relatively small (50,000 square meters) but was
fortified. Remains from this wall are located above the
According to the Jewish tradition, as it is expressed in the
Tanakh, Jerusalem remained a Jebusite city until the rise of
David, whom conquered the city and established the "City of
David" in the site of the Jebusite city. Later on King David
extended the walls, which were located on a low hill,
outside of the walls of outside of today's Old City area.
Solomon, David's son, built the first temple in the city and
also and also extended the city walls in order to protect
During the First Temple period and until the destruction of
the First Temple, the city walls extended towards the
northwest part of the city, the area where today the Jewish
quarter of the city is located.
After several decades of captivity in Babylon and the
Persian conquest of Babylonia, Cyrus II of Persia allowed
the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple. The
construction was finished in 516 BCE. Then, Artaxerxes I
sent Ezra and then Nehemiah to rebuild the city's walls and
to govern Judah, which was ruled as Yehud province under the
Persians. During the Second Temple period, and especially
during the Hasmonean period, the city walls were expanded
and renovated. Herod the Great expanded the walls to include
the West Hill. Agrippa I later began the construction of a
third wall. The wall were completed just before the outbreak
of the First Jewish–Roman War. Some remains of this wall are
located today near the "Mandelbaum Gate" gas station.
After the Fall of Jerusalem, the walls were destructed and
were later partially restored during the Aelia Capitolina
period, after afterword extensively by the Empress Aelia
Eudocia. In 1033, most of the walls constructed by Empress
Eudocia were destroyed by an earthquake. During the Crusader
conquest in 1099, the wall was rebuilt but destroyed again
during the conquest of Saladin. Saladin's nephew, Almllach
Almatma Issa, ordered the reconstruction of the city walls,
but later on changed his mind after most of the watchtowers
were built, mainly because he feared that the city walls
would mainly assist the Crusaders if the manage to
reconquere the city.
In 16th century, during the reign of the Ottoman empire in
the region, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
decided to fully rebuild the city walls on the remains of
the ancient walls. The construction lasted from 1535-1538
and these walls are the walls that exist today.
During the Six Day War in 1967, which saw hand to hand
fighting on the Temple Mount, the Old City and the city
walls transferred to Israeli control.