The Walls of the Old City – From Suleiman to the Ramparts Walk
When you begin your Ramparts Walk, think about Suleiman the Magnificent who restored the ancient walls of the city in the 16th century.The wall roughly follows the outline of the ramparts surrounding ancient Roman Jerusalem. Historians fail to find a strategic reason for these relatively thin walls since even the Ottoman Empire at that time used fire arms. The City of Jerusalem was in Ottoman control for 400 years. So devoted to fortifying the holy sites of Jerusalem was Suleiman that when his architects inadvertently left Mount Zion outside the walls, he had them executed in his fury.
From 1948 to 1967, Jordanian snipers hid on the ramparts and shot at Israelis living outside the walls. After 19 years of soldiers stationed on the walls, the ramparts required a full restoration.
The Ramparts Walk
The Ramparts Walk is divided into two separate walks. Unfortunately, due to the situation, there is no ramparts walk on the full circumference of the Old City because there is no ramparts walk on the east side of of the Temple Mount. The Rampart Walk, the Tower of David, David’s Tomb, the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, the Cathedral of St. James and the Mount Zion Cemetery are all included in the City of David National Park (Jerusalem Walls National Park).
The North Side Walk
The north side walk: Enter at the Jaffa Gate (on the west side of the Old City) and walk around the Christian Quarter and Moslem Quarter crossing over the New Gate, the Damascus Gate, the Herod’s Gate to the Lions Gate (on the east side). The north side walk is the longer of the two and covers a far greater area. There are great photo opps of the views of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of Flagellation. There is an exit at the Damascus Gate very close to Zedekiah’s Cave.
The South Side Walk
The south side walk: The entrance is a bit difficult to find. Enter at the Tower of David (Migdal David) next to the Jaffa Gate, pass the Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter, cross over the Zion Gate and continue to exit at the Dung Gate very close to the Western Wall. Here the photo opps include Armenian churches, the Dormition Abbey, the Old City rooftops, the Sultan’s Pool, Yemin Moshe, Mishkanot Sha’anim, Mt. Zion the Mount of Olives and the Church of St. Peterin Gallicantu. One of the best panoramas is from the roof of the Kishle, the old Ottoman and later British Mandate prison.
Both the north and south walks require a lot of steep stair climbing and descending. Wear comfortable walking shoes, and make sure you have enough water with you – There’s no exit until the end and no refreshment kiosk or bathroom along the way.
The British, who conquered the Holy Land from the Turks in 1917, felt a responsibility for preserving the city’s appearance and established certain standards to help safeguard its special character.
They decided that the undeveloped valleys surrounding the Old City would remain so, to serve as a green belt. The British instituted regulations that prohibited construction adjacent to or near the walls. This approach was also adopted by Israeli planning authorities and remains in effect today. You can see the green Teddy Park from the Ramparts Walk.
- Sunday – Thursday: 9am-4pm
- Saturday: 9am-4pm
- Friday: 9am-2pm
- During the summer months, the south side walk is open until 7pm and the north side walk until 5pm
Tickets: The tickets can be purchased in the ticket office beside the information office at the Jaffa Gate.
- Adult: NIS 16
- Child: NIS 8
- There is a package deal with several other attractions in the area, including the Archaeological Gardens next to the Western Wall (Kotel).