First-time tourists excited to see the walls of the Old City may be a bit disappointed in 2010. Scaffolding has been erected along sections of the western and southern walls in an effort to restore the Turkish wall built in 1540. From Haaretz:
Three years ago a stone from the Old City wall in Jerusalem fell into a church school yard next door. Fears that the wall was crumbling spawned a complex project to restore its stones while preserving traces of history left by inscriptions, shells and animals.
It turned out later that the stone had fallen from a Jordanian support column rather than the Ottoman wall. But by then the NIS 15 million renovation project was already on its way.
As elsewhere in the world, Jerusalem’s wall consists of two stone walls with earth in between. The greatest threat is from water penetrating the stone layers, causing the stones to shift and topple. The renovators must seal the cracks without changing the wall’s facade. In some cases they have no choice but to replace a flawed stone at the cost of changing its original color or appearance.
“We don’t clean the stones completely,” says Mashiah. “The wall doesn’t have to look like a new building. It should remain ancient.”
The wall’s renovation is due to be completed in about a year, except for the section surrounding the Temple Mount, where the Muslim Waqf trust refused to allow restoration work. The owners of various sections of the interior wall also refused the renovators access.
The Zion Gate, ravaged by thousands of shells in the War of Independence and by exhaust fumes and countless car collisions, has been painstakingly renovated. The memorial stone for the Harel Brigade combatants, which blocked one of the gate’s lattices, has been moved.
Read the full story here.