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The Old City ( , HaIr HaAtika, , al-Balda al-Qadimah) is a 0.9 square kilometre (0.35 square mile) walled area within the modern city of Jerusalemmarker, Israelmarker. Until the 1860s this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Temple Mountmarker and its Western Wallmarker for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchremarker for Christians, and the Dome of the Rockmarker and al-Aqsa Mosquemarker for Muslims.

Traditionally, the Old City has been divided into four quarters, although the current designations were introduced only in the 19th century. Today, the Old City is roughly divided into the Muslim Quartermarker, the Christian Quartermarker, the Jewish Quartermarker and the Armenian Quartermarker.

The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was largely destroyed by Jordanmarker following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but was later restored by Israelmarker following the Six Day War. In 1980, Jordanmarker proposed the Old City to be inscribed on the UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site List. It was added to the List in 1981. In 1982, Jordan requested that it be added to the List of World Heritage Sites in danger.

History

According to the Bible, before King David's conquest of Jerusalem in the 11th century BCE the city was home to the Jebusites. The Bible describes the city as heavily fortified with a strong city wall. The city ruled by King David, known as Ir Davidmarker, or the City of Davidmarker, is now believed to be southwest of the Old City walls, outside the Dung Gatemarker. His son King Solomon extended the city walls and then, in about 440 BCE, in the Persian period, Nehemiah returned from Babylonmarker and rebuilt them. In 41-44 CE, Agrippa, king of Judeamarker, built a new city wall known as the "Third Wall."

Muslims occupied Jerusalem in the 7th Century (637 CE) under the second caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab who annexed it to the Islamic Arab Empire. He granted its inhabitants an assurance treaty. After the siege of Jerusalem, Sophronius welcomed `Umar because, according to biblical prophecies allegedly known to the church in Jerusalem, "a poor, but just and powerful man" will rise to be a protector and an ally to the Christian of Jerusalem. Sophronius believed that `Umar, a great warrior who led an austere life, was a fulfillment of this prophecy. In the account by the Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, it is said that `Umar paid a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchremarker and sat in its courtyard. When the time for prayer arrived, however, he left the church and prayed outside the compound, in order to avoid having future generations of Muslims use his prayer there as a pretext for converting the church into a mosque. Eutychius adds that `Umar also wrote a decree which he handed to the Patriarch, in which he prohibited that Muslims gather in prayer at the site.In 1099 Jerusalem was captured by the Western Christian army of the First Crusade and remained in their hands until recaptured by the Arab Muslims led by Saladin, on October 2, 1187. He summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city. In 1219 the walls of the city were razed by Mu'azzim Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egyptmarker, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls; but they were again demolished by Da'ud, the emir of Kerakmarker. In 1243 Jerusalem came again under the control of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244 and Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the city walls, rendering it again defenseless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status.
Suleiman I 1530


The current walls of the Old City were built in 1538 by the Muslim Ottoman Empire Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The walls stretch for approximately 4.5 kilometres, (2.8 miles), and rise to a height of 5–15 metres, (16–49 feet), with a thickness of 3 metres, (10 ft). Altogether, the Old City walls contain 43 surveillance towers and 11 gates, seven of which are presently open.

Jerusalem Quarters

The Arab market in the Old City of Jerusalem


Muslim Quarter

The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populous of the four quarters and is situated in the northeastern corner of the Old City, extending from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mountmarker in the south, to the Damascus Gate route in the west. Its population was 22,000 in 2005. Like the other three quarters of the Old City, the Muslim quarter had a mixed population of Jews as well as Muslims and Christians until the riots of 1929. Today 60 Jewish families live in the Muslim Quarter, and a few yeshivot are located there. The main one is Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim.

Christian Quarter

The Christian Quarter is situated in the north-western corner of the Old City, extending from the New Gate (see below) in the north, along the western wall of the Old City as far as the Jaffa Gate, along the Jaffa Gate - Western Wallmarker route in the south, bordering on the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, as far as the Damascus Gate in the east, where it borders on the Muslim Quartermarker. The quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchremarker, one of Christianity's holiest places.

Armenian Quarter

The Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the four quarters of the Old City. Although the Armenian people are Christians, the Armenian Quarter is distinct from the Christian Quartermarker. Despite the small size and population of this quarter, the Armenians and their Patriarchate remain staunchly independent and form a vigorous presence in the Old City. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the four quarters of the city came under Jordanianmarker control. Jordanian law required Armenians and other Christians to “give equal time to the Bible and Qur'an” in private Christian schools, and restricted the expansion of church assets. The 1967 war is remembered by residents of the quarter as a miracle, after two unexploded bombs were found inside the Armenian monastery. Today more than 3,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem, 500 of them in the Armenian Quarter. Some are temporary residents studying at the seminary or working as church functionaries. The Patriarchate owns the land in this quarter as well as valuable property in West Jerusalem and elsewhere. In 1975, a theological seminary was established in the Armenian Quarter. After the 1967 war, the Israeli government gave compensation for repairing any churches or holy sites damaged in the fighting, regardless of who caused the damage.

Jewish Quarter

Western Wall and Dome of the Rock


The Jewish Quarter ( , HaRova HaYehudi, known colloquially to residents as HaRova) lies in the southeastern sector of the walled city, and stretches from the Zion Gate in the south, along the Armenian Quartermarker on the west, up to the Cardo in the north and extends to the Western Wallmarker and the Temple Mountmarker in the east. The quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BCE. In 1948 its population of about 2,000 Jews was besieged, and forced to leave en masse. The quarter had been completely sacked by the Arabs, with ancient synagogues destroyed.The quarter remained under Jordanianmarker control until its capture by Israelimarker paratroops in the Six-Day War of 1967. The quarter has since been rebuilt and settled, and has a population of 2,348 (as of 2004), and many large educational institutions have taken up residence. Before being rebuilt, the quarter was carefully excavated under the supervision of Hebrew Universitymarker archaeologist Nahman Avigad. The archaeological remains, on display in a series of museums and outdoor parks, to visit which tourists descend two or three stories beneath the level of the current city, collectively form one of the world's most accessible archaeological sites. The former Chief Rabbi is Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, and current is his son Rabbi Chizkiyahu Nebenzahl who is on the faculty of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh situated directly across from the Kotel.

Gates

During the era of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, there were four gates to the Old City, one on each side. The current walls, built by Suleiman the Magnificent, have a total of eleven gates, but only seven are open. Until 1887, each gate was closed before sunset and opened at sunrise. As indicated by the chart below, these gates have been known by a variety of names used in different historic periods and by different community groups.

Open gates



English Hebrew Arabic Alternative names Construction Year Location
New Gatemarker HaSha'ar HeHadash Al-Bab al-Jedid Gate of Hammid 1887 West of northern side
Damascus Gatemarker Sha'ar Shkhem Bab al-Amoud Sha'ar Damesek, Nablus Gate, Gate of the Pillar 1537 Middle of northern side
Herod's Gatemarker Sha'ar HaPerachim Bab al-Sahira Sha'ar Hordos, Flower Gate, Sheep Gate unknown East of northern side
Lions' Gatemarker Sha'ar HaArayot Bab Sittna Maryam Gate of Yehoshafat, St. Stephen's Gate, Gate of the Tribes 1538-39 North of eastern side
Dung Gatemarker Sha'ar HaAshpot Bab al-Maghariba Gate of Silwan, Sha'ar HaMugrabim 1538-40 East of southern side
Zion Gatemarker Sha'ar Tzion Bab El-Nabi Da'oud Gate to the Jewish Quarter 1540 Middle of southern side
Jaffa Gatemarker Sha'ar Yaffo Bab al-Khalil The Gate of David's Prayer Shrine, Porta Davidi 1530-40 Middle of western side


Sealed gates



English Hebrew Description Period Location
Golden Gatemarker Sha'ar HaRahamim Gate of Mercy, the Gate of Eternal Life. Sealed in 1541. 6th century Middle of eastern side
Single Gate This gate led to the underground area of the Temple Mountmarker known as Solomon's Stablesmarker Herodian period Southern wall of Temple Mountmarker
Double Gate Herodian period Southern wall of Temple Mountmarker
Huldah Gatesmarker Also known as the Triple Gate, as it comprises three arches Herodian period Southern wall of Temple Mountmarker


See also



References

  1. Advisory Body Evaluation (PDF file)
  2. Report of the 1st Extraordinary Session of the World Heritage Committee
  3. Justification for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, 1982: Report of the 6th Session of the World Heritage Committee
  4. The Holy Sepulchre - first destructions and reconstructions
  5. Mordechai Weingarten
  6. shnaton C1404.xls


External links

Virtual Tours




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