In my European travels, I have seen many impressive walls and towers, ancient and medieval, for example, in Avila, Spain; or Carcassonne, France; BUT…. Probably, at least once in your life, you met a woman or a man who couldn’t be called beautiful, but nevertheless, she/he was unbelievably and inexplicable charming and attractive. Same with the Walls of Jerusalem.
Something cryptic in their simplicity forces you to raise your camera and shoot, shoot, and shoot at every turn, whether you are on the walls, inside, or outside of them. It’s a pleasure to stroll on them. It’s a pleasure to stroll beside them. It’s a pleasure to look at them. It’s a pleasure to touch them. My God, I even spoke with them. And they answered. They told me:
- how the city of Jebus was built there in the middle of the Bronze Age. It was small, but already fortified with walls;
- how David, the king, conquered Jebus and renamed it the City of David;
- how Solomon, David’s son, built the First Temple and extended the walls to protect it and the Temple Mount;
- how the city was destroyed in 587 BCE by Babylonians;
- how Persians beat the Babylonians and allowed Jews to return and built the Second Temple, the city, and the walls which were extended by Herod the Great and later by Agrippa I;
- how the walls were almost completely devastated during the First JewishRoman War (6673 CE), and how Jerusalem lay in ruins the following 60 years;
- how the Roman Emperor Diocletian started to erect new walls in 289;
- how most parts of the walls were destroyed again in 1033, that time by an earthquake, and were rebuilt by Fatimids;
- how Saladin’s nephew ordered the walls be broken down in 1219, because he didn’t want them to be used by Crusaders if they reconquered the city, and how for the next three hundred years, Jerusalem existed without the walls;
- how in the 16th century, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built the new walls on the remnants of the old ones, and they have stood to this day. The tombs of its architects can be found near Jaffa Gate. One historian says the sultan ordered the creators of the walls be executed for some mistakes made by them during the construction, others think he wanted to prevent them from repeating such a miracle elsewhere.
Almost three thousand years of history: the walls of Jerusalem have a lot to tell you. You just need to listen.
Jaffa Gate has been the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem for many hundreds of years, but today, it is not so much a gate as a wide aisle.
However, some of Jerusalems gates look and “sound” the same as they used to many centuries ago. Damascus Gate, for example.
From inside, you can appreciate all the beauty of Jerusalem’s walls only in Armenian and Jewish quarters. To explore them from outside, every admirer of real architecture must walk along the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem from Dung Gate to Lion Gate.