“Upon Your Walls, O Jerusalem”
The walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem were built in the 16th century at the command of the Ottoman ruler Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. For 400 years Turkish soldiers marched along the path atop the city’s ramparts, patrolling between the gates and guard towers. That path, which was recently renovated and turned into a promenade, is a unique walking route that offers unusual views of Jerusalem inside and outside the walls, looking at remnants from the past and development in the present.
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. Among other things, they decided that the undeveloped valleys surrounding the Old City would remain so, to serve as a green belt that would separate the old from the new. The British instituted regulations that prohibited construction adjacent to or near the walls. This approach was also adopted by Israeli planning authorities and is still in effect today.
Following the War of Independence and the capture of the Old City by the Jordanian Arab Legion, the border between Jordan and Israel was drawn close to the wall. This border divided Jerusalem for a period of 19 years, until the Six Day War. Later on the Old City Ramparts Walk was opened, as well as the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park at the foot of the walls.
There are two optional routes for the Ramparts Walk: The northern route, from Jaffa Gate to the Lions Gate (see the tour, “Upon Your Walls – Northern Section”) and the southern route, which begins at the Tower of David and ends at the Dung Gate. This pamphlet describes the Southern Section of the Ramparts Walk.
Photo: Itamar Grinberg