Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate
Designed by the architects of “Suleiman the Magnificant” in the 16th Century, to Jaffa Gate is one of the main entry ways into the Old City of Jerusalem. The gate is comprised of a typical medieval L-Shape entryway to slow down oncoming attackers. It was also protected by two heavy doors on both ends. Up to the mid-19th century the gates of Jerusalem used to be locked every night. Furthermore, in 1898 breach was formed in the wall behind the gate to enable a triumphal entry into the city for Wilhelm II. The breach is used to this day for car entry into the old city from the West.
The gate’s name (like Jaffa Road) is based on the overseas traffic to Jerusalem from the west, which came mostly through the Port of Jaffa. Nowdays however, most of the pedestrians entering the old city from the West reach via the Mamilla Pedestrian mall.
Jaffa Gate’s Controversial Clock Tower
In the early 20th Century the Ottomans built a big clock tower above Jaffa gate. However, just 20 years later, the first British governor of Jerusalem considered it to be so ugly that he ordered to take it off.
The Inscriptions at Jaffa Gate
When Jaffa gate was first built a lengthy inscription was added in Arabic to praise Suleiman the Magnificent for its construction. It stated: “In the name of Allah the merciful and the compassionate, our lord the great sultan, king of the Turks, the Arabs and the Persians, Suleiman Ben Salim Khan, ordered that this blessed wall be built, may Allah will perpetuate his reign, Year 945 (=to the Muslim Higra)” A similar inscriptions was also placed in the wall next to the gate.
After the six days war, in 1967, the old city became under control of the State of Israel. In 1970s It led a big conservation project of the old city’s gates and walls. When completed, an Inscription in Hebrew and Arabic was added beneath the Ottoman one, stating “On Teveth 10, 5730 (=1970), the fixing of the city walls were completed.” It then adds a short quote from the Book of Nehemiah (4:1) that documents the repair of Jerusalem’s walls and how it got the Samaritans and the Arabs upset. In his wildest dreams Suleiman the magnificent probably did not expect this…
Points of Interest Near Jaffa Gate
The courtyard behind Jaffa gate is a colorful combination of souvenir shops and some 19th century neo-classical buildings. South of the gate is the Medieval citadel of Jerusalem, known today at the Tower of David Museum. Next to the gate an stairway in the walls leads to the Ramparts walk.
Jaffa gate is also the closest entry into the city to get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which attracts millions of Christian pilgrims on annual basis.
For a full appreciation of the site it is recommended to combine it with a guided day tour of Jerusalem.