Today’s offering: a drive through Old Jerusalem!
“Our feet are standing within they gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, that art built as a city that is compact together.” —Psalm 122:2–3
According to This Is Israel pictorial guide and souvenir book, “Jerusalem, city of a hundred names and a thousand faces, holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown that is Israel. Throughout the almost two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple and the exile, Jews the world over have prayed in the direction of Jerusalem. Christians connect Jerusalem with the last years in the life of Jesus. Here he taught, was arrested, crucified and resurrected. Moslem associate Jerusalem with El Aksa, the point from which Mohammed ascended to the seventh heaven. After Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem is Islam’s third holiest city.”
The Old City of Jerusalem is composed of four quarters, each with its own characteristics: The Christian Quarter in the northwest, the Moslem Quarter in the northeast, the Armenian Quarter in the southwest, and the Jewish Quarter in the southeast. Covering an area of approximately 850 dunams, the four quarters are surrounded by the city walls. The walls built of huge blocks are grey stone and were constructed between 1536 and 1539 by Sueliman the Magnificent. (Remember, we visited his residence in Istanbul?)
There are eight gates in the Old City Walls: the Damascus Gate—the most ornate, built by Suleiman the Great in 1537 where the road to Damascus and the north began. The New Gate—the only gate not build by Suleiman, opened in 1887 to allow passage from the Christian Quarter to the Catholic institutions outside the walls. The Jaffa Gate—the starting point of the road to Jaffa, an outlet for trade. The Zion Gate—connects the Armenian Quarter with Mt. Zion, also called the “Jewish Quarter Gate” since it is so near the Jewish Quarter.
The Dung Gate—the nearest gate to the Western Wall, low and narrow, just wide enough to permit the passage of a man and his donkey. An ancient sewer runs beneath the gate removing most of the city’s refuse to the Kidron Valley. The Golden Gate—placed in the east wall of the Temple Mount enclosure, facing the Mount of Olives, known as the Gate of Mercy. Tradition holds that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. The Lion’s Gate—named for the pair of carved lions who guard it. Also known as St. Stephen’s gate, it was recorded Stephen was martyred nearby. Herod’s Gate—named for the mistaken identification of a nearby church as the home of Herod Antipas.
Don’t miss tomorrow: the temple mount and praying at the Western Wall.