Most readers will know that the Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. The Israelis have designated a park on both the east side and the west side of the Old City. The park is designated as the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park. In this post we will show you some of the highlights of the west wall.
Let’s begin at the Citadel. If you are at Jaffa Gate you should exit and follow the road that goes down to the main street. A smaller road also extends along the west wall, at which point you can walk on the grass in this beautiful garden.
This extended view shows the citadel and a sizable stretch of the wall south. We will be calling special attention to the section on the right of the image.
Let’s go back north and begin our tour with a view of stones from various historical periods.
The walk in the Garden is relaxing and the signs are helpful. The captions are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. I suggest you click on the photos to see a larger image.
The various periods represented in this little stretch of wall are listed here, beginning from the earliest at the bottom:
- Israelite Period wall (presumable the First Temple period)
- Hellenistic Period (a Hasmonean wall)
- Roman Period (Herodian wall). This is the wall from the time of Christ.
- Byzantine Period
- Ayyubid Period
- Ottoman Period
The next thing you will see as you walk south are rock-cut tombs from the first temple period (Iron Age). The sign explaining these tombs date to the period from 950 to 586 B.C. Notice that the tombs are cut from the bedrock, and that the wall is built on top of the tomb.
The sign at the tombs show the interior of the tomb complex. We see the same type tomb across the Hinnom Valley at the Ketef Hinnom tombs.
In this pleasant park there are also signs to identify the buildings to the west. The valley between the upper city of ancient Jerusalem and the hill to the west is the upper Hinnom Valley. Here it is running north-south, but it takes a turn to the east around the southern wall of the Old City.
Notice the green seating visible left of center among the trees in the valley. These are part of a concert venue in the Valley of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8). The ridge to the west is the central mountain ridge that runs north–south in Israel, serving as a watershed with Jerusalem on the east side of the ridge. If I added one more photo showing structures to the north (right) you would see the famous King David Hotel. In the picture posted here you see the Montifiore Windmill, a structure built as a flour mill in the mid-19th century. (Click on the photo for a larger image.)
On the left of the photo you will see a building crane, sometimes called the national bird of Israel. Below the arm of the crane and partly framed by the yellow flowers is the Begin Center. The building to the left of it is the Scottish Church. Between the Begin Center and the Scottish Church is the location of the Ketef Hinnom (shoulder of Hinnom) iron age tombs.
In the next post about the west wall of the Old City we will continue south along the wall and take a look at the site that Professor Shimon Gibson, and some other scholars, have identified as an entrance to the Pretorium and the stone pavement where Jesus was tried before the Prefect Pilate (John 19:13).