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Jerusalem's Old City Gates - The Dung Gate

The Dung Gate on the south eastern side of the Old City is also called Bab el-Silwan, since it overlooks the Arab village of that name.The gate leads straight to the Western Wall. According to legend, it was through this gate that Jerusalem's Christian inhabitants, during Byzantine times, used to take their garbage to be dumped on the Temple Mount. The original Dung Gate from the Second Temple period (538 BCE - 70 CE) was situated near the Siloam Pool, which channeled water to the city in antiquity via an elaborate systems of shafts and tunnels.

Golden Gate (Mercy Gate)

The Golden Gate, built by the Omayyads in the Seventh century on the site of the original (Shushan) entrance to the Temple, is the only gate on the Temple Mount's eastern wall, which forms also part of the city walls. It has been blocked since 1530, when the Moslems allegedly wanted to prevent the coming of the Messiah, who, according to Jewish belief, will enter through this gate. The dead will be resurrected on this day, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives faces the Golden Gate for just this reason.

Herod's Gate

Early Christian pilgrims identified a structure near this gate as the palace of Herod Antipas, to whom Jesus was sent by Pontius Pilate on the night before his crucifixion. (Luke 23:7). In Hebrew and Arabic, the gate is also known as the Flower Gate, due to the ornamental flower engraved above the entry. and it leads directly into the Moslem Quarter. Originally, the gate was a mere wicket opening in the wall designed to ease the flow of traffic on the northern side of the Old City's walls, east of Damascus Gate. The present gate dates from 1875, when the old entrance nearby was closed.

Jaffa Gate

Jaffa Gate got its name from the road that once led from here to the Mediterranean port of Jaffa. It is the busiest entrance to the Old City and the easiest to reach from western Jerusalem. Protected by a heavy wood- and-iron door, Jaffa Gate;s entry is strategically built on an angle. Once inside the walls, the road leads either directly into the western part of the Arab bazaar, or south, into the Armenian quarter. A large part of the wall alongside of the gate was torn down in 1898 to allow Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to enter in his carriage, and that broad opening is now utilized by the cars and taxis which drive in the Old City.

Jaffa Gate was built in 1538 on the ruins of an earlier Crusader gate, and it was through this gate that General Allenby led his troops into Jeruslem towards the end of World War I, almost five centuries later. When the Old City fell into Jordanian hands in 1948, Jaffa Gate, which opened towards the Western side of the city, was locked and walled in. Following the Six Day War in 1967, it was reopened and restored.

Lion's Gate

Located on the eastern side of the Old City, Lion's Gate derives its name from the double pair of lions (which are actually panthers) engraved on each side. The gate, built in 1538 by Suleiman the Magnificent, is known as Stephen's Gate by Christians who believing that the saint was stoned to death here (in the Byzantine period, Damascus Gate was thought to be the site). On Easter, the Christian procession sets out at Lion's Gate to follow the Way of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa the path that Christians believe that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. In Arabic, the gate is named Bab el-Maryam, since according to Arab belief, the Virgin Mary's birthplace is located inside.