Originally the walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem had 11 gates, today 7 remain open one of them is the Zion Gate and an eighth gate the Gate of Mercy is sealed off. Zion Gate is also called the Gate of the Prophet David due to the close proximity of the Tomb of David on Mount Zion. In Hebrew Zion Gate is Shaar Zion and in Arabic Bab Harat al-Yahud or the Jewish Quarter Gate. It also gained the name the Wounded Gate after the conflict at the gate during the 1948 war.

The Zion Gate in the south side of the city looks out of the Old City onto Mount Zion and within the walls the gate leads directly to the Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter. Together with the massive city walls the gate was constructed in the 16th century. On the gate you can see a plaque in honor of the Sultan Sulyman Iben Salim who was responsible for the construction. A small arrow slit window with a decorative arched frame is embedded in the wall next to the gate. For defense purposes there are holes in the wall on the upper level through which hot oil could be dropped on opponents.

Originally the keys to the gate were kept by the Jewish community which would lock the gate at night. In 1948 during the War of Independence the Jewish forces fought the Jordanians to gain entrance to the sieged city through this gate. You can see the bullet holes in the surrounding walls from this conflict. From 48 to 67 when the city was under Jordanian rule the gate was sealed. When in 1948 the British left Jerusalem the keys to the city were handed over at the Zion Gate. In 2008 the gate underwent a facelift and today it is open to both pedestrian and vehicle (only one-way) traffic.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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