Jerusalem has about eight gates – the Dung Gate in the southern wall, the Tekoa Gate, the Essene Gate in the southwestern bend, the busy Joppa Gate, and the Susa Gate or the Eastern Gate. Damascus Gate is located on the northern side of the wall, along with the New Gate and Herod’s Gate.
Damascus Gate is dubbed as the “Bab-al-Amud,” meaning “Gate of the Column” by the Arabs, owing to its memorable lofty pillar in the plaza built during the Byzantine and Roman era. Today, it is also popularly called “Shechem Gate” by the Jews, Nablus Gate and the “Gate of Victory.” The name Damascus Gate isn’t something honorary; it is a practical name stood witness to a countless number of pilgrims and travelers tracing their way to and from Damascus.
The Fascinating Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate may be thought of as just one of the numerous gates of Jerusalem, but it is certainly the largest and the grandest of all the other walls surrounding the city. It is flanked by two fortifications, which have machicolations as a feature reinforcing its defensive function. The walls are massively built using ancient stones, which can be traced back to the time of Herod’s rule.
Unlike the Jaffa Gate, this gate has steps/stairs descending to it from the road, so that it is sometimes utilized like an amphitheater. There used to be a turret with battlements looming over it, which added character and appeal to it; it was damaged in 1967 the Six-Day War. Part of the damaged structures, including 11 anchors and four slabs, were restored to form the crenellated crowns of the turrets or battlements.
The Gate was built sometime between 1537 and 1541 AD during the Ottoman rule of Suleiman the Magnificent. In front is a Roman victory column crowned with the image of Emperor Hadrian, which explains its monikers “Gate of Victory.”
The role of the Roman rule in the history of Jerusalem is confirmed by the excavated remains beneath the gate, dating back to the 2nd century AD. Hadrian had this gate expanded, serving as the main entrance to the city since the first century BC. To this day the symbol of Roman rule is tangible in the city’s inscribed name on the rafter to the second century gate, which reads “Aelia Capitolina.”
Things to Do or Enjoy Near Damascus Gate
- The Old-world Ambiance: Parts of the Gate’s allure is its proximity to the Arab bazaar and the marketplace, which give it that unmistakable old-world charm, The place abounds with Arab men and women in their traditional clothing selling and buying bunches of fruits and vegetables, young workers pushing or pulling carts up and down the pitched steps.
- The Real Deal: If you like shopping, the gate is lined with a lot of street vendors, particularly during Fridays, the Muslim holy day. The size of the crowd during these days adds to the exciting hustle and bustle trait of this Mid-eastern market. Be prepared to haggle or barter if you want to walk away with great-value items.
- The Temple Mount: One attraction that is certainly worthy to visit is the Temple Mount. Make sure to bring your passport if you plan to make it a part of your itinerary. The complex is a scenic and culturally rich destination. The Rock, dubbed as the Fountain Stone, occupies the central area of the mosque. The Dome of the Rock or Qubbat as-Sakhrah is celebrated for its golden domed roof with a crescent moon emblem.
- More Attractions: Jess Lee shares this Planetware post – 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Jerusalem. If you so decide to travel to Jerusalem, what should you not miss land “of all three monotheistic faiths has led to it being fought over continually through the centuries … where the Jews raised the First Temple to keep the Ark of the Covenant safe, where Jesus was crucified and rose again, and where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven to receive God’s word.”
Aside from the Temple Mount (Haram Al-Sharif), which is #1 on the list, the other attractions include:
#2 Wailing Wall and Jewish Quarter in the Western Wall Plaza, Old City
#3 Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter, Old City
#4 Armenian Quarter in the Old City
#5 Via Dolorosa in the Via Dolorosa Street, Old City
#6 Citadel (Tower of David) and surrounds near Jaffa Gate, Old City
#7 Christian Quarter in the Old City
#8 Muslim Quarter in the Old City
#9 Mount of Olives
#10 Mount Zion
# 11 Old City Walls
#12 East Jerusalem
#13 Central City Sites (Exit Old City from Jaffa Gate)
#14 Israel Museum at Givat Ram district, West Jerusalem
#15 Kidron Valley (Exit Old City from Zion Gate)
- Other Notable Attractions:
- Mehane Yehuda Market (off Jaffa Road)
- Nahlaot District in the Central City
- Knesset at Givat Ram district, West Jerusalem
- Bible Lands Museum at Ram district, West Jerusalem
- Monastery of the Cross at Rehavia district, West Jerusalem
- Yad Vashem (Hill of Remembrance) in West Jerusalem
- Herzl Museum in the West Jerusalem
- Ein Kerem
- Abu Ghosh about 13 km west of Jerusalem
- Latrun about 28 km west of Jerusalem
- Beit Guvrin
- Sorek Caves
Jerusalem is one of the most visited sacred places in the world. For believers, there are enough religious reasons to include Jerusalem in your wish list. With so much to see, it is a place befitting every traveler, regardless of religion or faith. You will certainly find something to do and enjoy here.