israeltravelslogcheckprivatetours

Gates To The City

damascus-gate-tamarindi-9293-965x543

Jerusalem’s Old City has been enclosed in strong, decorative walls since the 16th century — capped with crenellations, floored with machicolations, and fortified against marauders and crusaders.

Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, a brilliant military strategist as well as a cunning politician and eloquent poet, was having a very bad night. He tossed and turned, dreaming that lions had chased him in a field and greedily fed upon his body. Waking up in a sweat, he called frantically for his advisors. “What does it all mean?” he asked shakily. “You must do a good deed,” he was told. “Why not rebuild the crumbling walls of the Holy City of Jerusalem?”

Scholars have a different explanation for the Turkish walls that have surrounded Jerusalem since 1538 and which have never been breached. Some say that Suleiman heard rumors of a new Crusade in the making — and that’s why he decided to fortify Jerusalem. Others think he repaired the walls to ward off Bedouin marauders.

Whatever the reason, the Old City of Jerusalem has been completely enclosed in strong, decorative walls since the 16th century. Four kilometers in length, the walls are 12 meters high, studded with towers and topped by tooth-like projections called crenellations.

Bustling Damascus Gate market offers everything from tennis shoes to electric teapots. This area is the hub of East Jerusalem commerce, and Damascus Gate is the loveliest of all entrances to the Old City. And while the walls are almost always capped with crenellations, it is only at Damascus Gate that these are replaced by decorative statuettes.

Called Sha’ar Scechem in Hebrew, the gate faces north, and, in the past, a road led directly to Nablus (Shechem) and from there to Damascus. In Arabic, it is known as Bab el Amud – Gate of the Pillar — because in Roman times a giant column topped with a full statue of the Emperor Hadrian stood in the center of its inner plaza. During the Byzantine period, this was called St. Stephen’s Gate for, according to one Christian tradition, the martyr Stephen was dragged out of the city through this gate and stoned to death somewhere on the other side of today’s road.

Five different parapets are built into the walls and towers as a defensive measure. Their floors contain machicolations, openings from which soldiers could dump boiling oil or hot tar on an enemy invader beneath the walls.

jaffa-gate-19th-century-entrance-d2212

Read the full article over at The Times of Israel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

facebook
Subscribe to Israel Travels

Follow Latest News and Posts

Testimonials
Our two-week trip to Israel was one of the best experiences of our lives. Shmuel knows the country like the back of his hand and takes you not only to everything you want to see but to fascinating places you haven't even heard os! We saw a more complete Israel than any of our friends on regular organized tourist trips. Shmuel taught us a great deal about the geography and history of the places we visited. He also has a great sense of humor, is a lot of fun to be with and picks great places to eat. We could not recommend more highly and more enthusiastically seeing Israel with Shmuel as your guide.

Patrick Henry and Mary Anne O'Neil