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Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate, or the Nablus Gate, is one of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The gate connects to a highway leading out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus.

This gate brings you to the the Muslim and Christian Quarters and has easy access to the Jerusalem light rail.

The gate was built by Suleiman the Magnificent when he built Jerusalem’s Walls.

Though it appears that Suleiman used previously existing walls and gates for his foundation.

Excavations along the outer side of the Damascus Gate during the 1930s and 1960s, exposed the remains of the two older gates.

One was a fortified Crusader gate and, below it, a Roman city gate built by Hadrian preserved almost intact.

In addition, they found stones typically Herodian style from the Second Temple Period.

These stones had been removed from public buildings and the retaining walls of the Temple Mount, after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions, and repurposed by the Roman’s for their gate.

The Roman gate now leads to the Roman Plaza Museum.

In front of the gate was once the Roman Plaza, a stone-paved courtyard at its center stood the statue of the emperor. 

HADRIAN’S GATE

While Hadrian’s Gate (which as no official name) was the main gate to the city during the Roman and Byzantine rule, today it leads to the Roman Plaza Museum.

Hadrian’s Gate was built as a free-standing triumphal gate.

It was only sometime towards the end of the 3rd or the very beginning of the 4th century that protective walls were built around Jerusalem, connecting to the existing gate.

The central arch was some 40 meters wide and about 20 meters tall with identical, more modest, entrances to the city on either side.

It was here that anyone passing through the gate into the city, which was a paved road, would need to pay taxes to enter.

In the square behind the gate stood a Roman victory column topped by a statue of Emperor Hadrian. This can still be seen depicted on the 6th-century Madaba Map located in the Cardo.

This gate was the smaller entrance that stood on the right.

On the lintel of this gate is inscribed the city’s Roman name after 130 CE, Aelia Capitolina.

Until the latest excavations some researchers believed that Hadrian’s gate was preceded by one erected by Agrippa I as part of what Josephus called the Third Wall.

The Roman gate remained in use during the Byzantine and Crusader periods.

Its side entrances were blocked during the Byzantine and Early Arab periods.

Later the Crusaders built a new, fortified gate at a much higher level, unwittingly preserving the remains of the Roman gate below it.

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