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Zion Gate

Zion Gate is located at the southern end of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is one of the gates set by the Ottomans when they reconstructed the City’s walls in the early 16th Century. The gate has a typical L-shape, designed to slow down oncoming attackers, and sockets for massive doors. Above the gate, a projecting balcony (Mashikuli) enabled the dropping of boiling oil, snakes, and excrement on potential invaders. In addition to its protective design, the gate is also decorated with various stone ornamentations. The gate also bears an Arab inscription glorifying Suleiman the Magnificent who ordered and sponsored the re-fortification of Jerusalem.

Zion Gate in the 1948 War

In May 1948, Palmach forces managed to reach the Jewish Quarter by blowing up part of the wall next to the gate. Unfortunately, lacking sufficient backup, they eventually retreated, and the Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter surrendered. Women and Children were evacuated to West Jerusalem and the men were taken to Jordan as prisoners of war. The Jordanians occupied the Jewish Quarter and the Old City for 19 years, but during the Six-Day War in 1967 Israel liberated it. To this day, the front of Zion Gate is battered by bullet holes from the battles of 1948. In fact, you can even see some bullets still wedged into the walls.

Touring Zion Gate

Zion gate is open for pedestrians and is even used by cars to exit the old City. Its named derives from the fact that it connects to Mount Zion, which contains several significant Jewish and Christian holy sites. It is also possible to walk on top of the gate, if hiking along the Ramparts Walk.

A visit to Zion Gate can be part of a guided day tour of Jerusalem.

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