In late December, the exterior of the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem was shrouded in scaffolding. On Wednesday conservation work will be completed and the restored gate will again be visible to visitors. From the Israel Antiquities Authority:
During the preservation work at Jaffa Gate, extensive conservation treatment was carried out on all of the gate’s facades and its interior: stones were reinforced and hazards that endangered the safety of the visiting public were removed, the bullet damage to the gate was preserved, weathered stones and decorations were treated and the gate underwent a thorough cleaning. Among other things, the gate’s dedicatory inscription, which was in a severely deteriorated physical state and was quickly becoming detached from the structure, was completely dismantled and conserved.
Jaffa Gate was first inaugurated in 1538. It constituted part of the city walls and in fact it was only toward the end of the nineteenth century did it become a center of bustling and prosperous activity. The period culminated in the year 1898, when it was decided to breach a wide entrance in the city wall of Jerusalem (as we know it today) and thereby allow the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II and his wife, Augusta Victoria, to enter the city in their carriage. Thus, for the first time in the history of modern Jerusalem, carts could enter the Old City.
In the War of Independence the gate was the focal point of some very harsh battles. During the war Jaffa Gate was completely blocked by an armored vehicle that had been damaged in the fighting and was wedged in the opening. In the cease-fire agreements between Israel and Jordan Jaffa Gate stood at the opening to the no man’s land that stretched from Jaffa Gate to Zahal Square and the Mamilla neighborhood and separated it from Jordanian controlled Jerusalem in the east. Consequently, the blocked armored vehicle was not removed, and the gate remained closed the entire period that the city was divided. The remains of the bullets that pierced the stones of the gate are clearly visible on the upper parts of the structure.
An inauguration ceremony for the gate will take place on Wednesday, April 21 at 11:30 a.m.