Tourist Tip #182 / The Old City Ramparts of Jerusalem

You've been to the Old City a dozen times already? Now see the ancient quarters like never before.

"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem," the prophet Isaiah was told over 2,700 years ago. For the modern-day visitor to Jerusalem, the Old City walls continue to evoke the city's Biblical past, and an awe-inspiring way to drive home this concept is to take a walk atop the walls to gain a unique "Heavenly Jerusalem" perspective.

Locals may smirk at the insinuation that today's city walls have anything in common with Isaiah or David or Jesus. After all, most of the Old City walls were constructed a mere 470 years ago by the decidedly un-Biblical Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Still, the walls, which vary from five to 15 meters high, affords unparalleled views of both the Old City within and the New City without.

At times, walking level with upper-story windows, you feel like a spy, stealing voyeuristic glimpses. If you wish to raise your physical exertion to the level of consummate Jerusalem experience, consider bringing along a volume of Yehuda Amichai's poetry.

There are two route options: Immediately inside Jaffa Gate, climb the stairs to start the Christian and Muslim quarters' route (avail yourself of the restrooms before starting). You can climb down at any of the following gates: New, Damascus or Herod's – along the northern wall of the Old City – or at Lion's Gate – along the eastern wall, opposite the Mount of Olives. Alternatively, from Jaffa Gate follow the outer walls of David's Tower to enter the ramparts that traverse the Armenian and Jewish quarters. You may descend at Zion Gate, the Jewish Quarter parking lot or the Dung Gate. 

Note: Once you've exited the one-way turnstiles, there's no chance to re-ascend the wall. Also, since the wall running along the eastern side of the Temple Mount is barred to visitors, it is impossible to circumnavigate the entire 4.5 kilometers of Old City wall.  

Open Saturday-Thursday 9:00 – 16:00 (17:00 in summer), Friday 9:00 – 14:00

The Christian/Muslim quarters' route is closed on Fridays. Tickets are NIS 16/8 for adults/children.

Shiran Granot
Tal Cohen