Jaffa Gate, where Jerusalem’s Old meets New

Jaffa Gate,

You are an iconic meeting point in Jerusalem. Of histories, peoples, religions, locals, tourists, pilgrims, empires, old and new.

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You are one of the eight gates of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. You were built in the years 1535-1538.

When people walk into the Old City through you, they can turn left to the Christian Quarter, go straight to the Muslim Quarter or turn right to the Armenian Quarter. If they follow past the Armenian Quarter, they will reach the Jewish Quarter.

Emperor Suleiman
Emperor Suleiman

You are very well known. You are one of the main entrances people use on their pilgrimages to the Old City. As part of the Old City walls, you’re familiar with Sultan Suleiman, the man who thought you up. Legend says he had your planners killed because they didn’t include the City of David (the actual biblical city of Jerusalem) in the walls. They are buried right beside you. Charming fellow, he was.

You saw when a huge chunk of wall was broken down right next to you so that the German emperor could enter on horseback in 1898. Silliness indeed.

You’ve seen wars. Most recently, Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 which saw all Jews kicked out of the Old City and the Six-Day War of 1967 which saw the place inside your walls made into a space where all religions can practice.

For hundreds of years you’ve watched millions of pilgrims from all over the world, passing through you on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the Western Wall, to the Dome of the Rock.

For hundreds of years you’ve watched locals sell snacks, tours and souvenirs to these people.

You’ve seen oh so much construction. You went up in the 1500s. The Ottomans built a clock tower right on top of you in 1907. That came down. In 1912 the Bezalel art school built a pavilion next to you to sell art. That was brought down a few years later too. People put up little shops along the walls. Those were removed in order to preserve the walls’ original look. Most recently, the square on your outside has become large and beautiful and the walls have been fixed up.

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And the traffic has been redirected under a tunnel instead of right next to you as it used to be.

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Jaffa Gate, from the mid-1800s, Jerusalem began overflowing outside of the Old City walls and today it spans many times bigger than it ever was. From where you stand you’ve watched it happen and where you stand, you will always remain one of the main thoroughfares from the New City into the beloved old one.

Yes, you are indeed an iconic meeting point. You are beautiful and you’ve seen it all. If only gates to talk…

This post is in reply to wp.com’s weekly writing challenge.

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