Days out in Jerusalem

Zion Gate to Jaffa Gate – Outside the Walls

Before the guided short walk between the Zion Gate and the Jaffa Gate, first of all you should learn about the two historical gates, both of which belong to the so-called “Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem.”

Zion Gate – Located on south-western side of the Old City, it is one of the gates that lead to the Jewish and Armenian Quarters. It was named after Mount Zion which is directly outside the Old City walls adjacent to the gate. Zion Gate is also known as Bab Harat al-Yahud (“Gate of the Jews,” probably because it leads to the Jewish Quarter) or Bab an-Nabi Dawud (“Prophet David Gate,” perhaps because King David is buried on Mount Zion) in Arabic.

It was built in 1540, and there’s a stone inscription at the gate praising the builder, Sultan Suleyman Iben Salim.

During the Independence War in 1948, the Palmach forces fought the Jordanians at Zion Gate and managed to enter the Jewish Quarter, which was under siege. However, they had to retreat and the quarter was eventually evacuated. You can still see the bullet dents on the gate’s facade that serve as reminders of those battles that took place during the war. Thus, Zion Gate is also sometimes called “The Wounded Gate.”

Jaffa Gate – Jaffa Gate is one of the main tourist entry points to the Old City. It is also called Bab Al Khalil (“Gate of the Friend” or “Hebron Gate”). Also built under the order of Sultan Suleyman, Jaffa Gate has an interesting structure. This imposing-looking gate follows an L-shaped entryway, which abruptly bends at a right angle — designed in a way to slow down charging enemies.

The breach in the wall was created in 1898 to allow German Kaiser Wilhelm II to successfully enter into the city — with full pomp, no less. The breach and ramp leading up to it are now permitting cars to reach the Old City from the west.

Just inside the gate, you can see the inscription in Arabic praising Allah and his servant, Ibrahim. At this point too, you will find the Old City bazaar and the Tower of David Museum.

Walk from Zion Gate to Jaffa Gate

The short walk in Jerusalem outside the Old City walls, between Zion Gate and Jaffa Gate is well worthwhile. Although it is not concealed  — almost every tourist in Jerusalem walks nearby — it remains one of the city’s secrets, because it is often missed in the bustle of the other items on the itinerary. It is easily combined with a visit to the Old City and/or Mount Zion. It also complements the walk along the Old City Ramparts.

Exiting Zion Gate, turn right and follow the path alongside the city walls. At the end of the path, you will have a great view of the New City — the distinctive King David Hotel & the Windmill protruding over Yemin Moshe’s rooftops. Looking to the right, you have the majestic sweep of the Old City walls.

Go down the very steep stairs and turn right. As you walk down the hill, you will notice how the different landmarks in the Old City come into view. The park outside the walls makes a welcome place to rest.  Follow the footpath up the hill past the entrance to the Tower of David and on to Jaffa Gate. Take a moment on the plaza to enjoy the view and then either head into the Old City or checkout the shopping in Mamilla – enjoy our Mamilla Photos.

Check out some of the favorite views – From Zion to Jaffa Gates Album

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