Gates of the Old City

Jaffa Gate

So named because the road leading from it goes to the port city of Jaffa (Joppa), this gate is the only one on the western side of the Old City.

A low part of the city wall was torn down and the Crusader moat of the Citadel filled in 1898 for the visit of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.  This gate was also the famous scene of the English General Allenby’s entrance in 1917.

Damascus Gate

Called the Shechem Gate by the Jews, the Arabs remember this gate as the “Gate of the Column” because of the tall pillar that stood in this gate’s plaza during the Roman and Byzantine period.

Kenyon’s excavations underneath this Turkish gate found remnants of a triple-arched gateway dating to the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 135).

St. Stephen's Gate

This gate is so named because of the tradition that the first Christian martyr was stoned outside this gate.  However an earlier tradition locates this execution north of the city.

Lions’ Gate is another name for this eastern entrance into the Old City because of the four animals that decorate the gate’s facade and reportedly placed there because of a dream of the builder Suleiman.

Golden Gate

This sealed gate on the eastern side was built approximately AD 640 either by the last of the Byzantine rulers or by the first of the Arab conquerers.  Tradition that equates this gate with the one mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy (ch. 44) is dubious at best.

Leen Ritmeyer believes that an earlier gate is preserved underneath the current gate.

Dung Gate

Different theories account for the naming of this gate, including one which puts it back to Omar’s conquest of Jerusalem in 638 A.D. when trash was cleared out of the city through this gate.  It is also known as the Gate of the Moors because of the North African immigrants who lived in a neighborhood next to the gate in the 16th century.

Zion Gate

Providing access to Mt. Zion, this gate bears the marks of the Arab and Israeli battles in the 1948 War of Independence.

This gate is also known as the Gate of the Prophet David because of the traditional location of David’s tomb on Mt. Zion.  During the medieval period it was called the Gate of the Jewish Quarter.

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Related Websites

Old City Gates, General

The Old City Gates (Jewish Virtual Library) Brief information on each gate with helpful links to relevant in-depth topics throughout the text.

The Jerusalem Post Millennium Special: Keys to the Treasure Trove – Jerusalem’s Old City Gates.  Article giving historical details about each gate.  Small pictures.

AJE – Jerusalem 3000 (Agency for Jewish Education) Interesting facts about each gate with an educational emphasis.  Not all the links work, but the site is still fairly easy to navigate.  Starts at Jaffa Gate; from there you can tour around the wall in either direction.

Jerusalem within the Walls (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs) A concise summary of Old City landmarks, focusing on the eight gates.

Jerusalem: Old City Gates (Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.) Contains many unique  facts not frequently cited about the Old City’s Gates.

The HOPE – The Twelve Gates of Jerusalem – artist’s drawings of the gates of the city.

Jaffa Gate

Jaffa Gate (BibleWalks.com) A lengthy history of the area with several high-resolution photographs.

Jaffa Gate (3DIsrael) A real-life description of what you would see as you enter the city through this busy gate.

Zion Gate

Zion Gate (BibleWalks.com) A brief history of the gate with a number of large photographs.

Golden Gate

Visiting the Temple Mount (by Lambert Dolphin)  Contains an informative section on the Golden Gate, explaining many of the traditions and views associated with the blocked Eastern entrance to the Temple Mount.

Lions Gate/St. Stephen’s Gate

Live from the Western Wall (by Yossi Ronen)  Describes the role of Lions Gate in the 6 Day War, including the entrance of the paratroopers into the Old City through the gate.

Keys to the Treasure Trove – Jerusalem’s Old City Gates (Jerusalem Post)  Descriptions of most gates around the old city.

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate (The Jerusalem Mosaic) Spotlight on Damascus Gate in the Roman-Byzantine period.

The Wall and the Damascus Gate (The Jerusalem Mosaic) The building of the current wall and gates in the Ottoman Period.