The Turkish walls reach almost 3 miles around what is referred to as the Old City of Jerusalem. These walls, built by Suleiman the Great starting in 1537 AD stand an average of 40 feet high and 8-10 feet thick. Selectively-placed watch towers (34 of them), gates (8 of them), guard towers, and arrow slits behind which were carefully-positioned soldiers given the task of protecting the city distinguish this wall from any other. The Old City rampart wall is an architectural marvel, and there is nothing like walking on top of this wall around its circumference!
For most, the Jaffa Gate is the starting point for getting up on the wall. While is costs about $4-5 to get a rampart wall pass, the walk on the walls offers a great perspective in all directions. Walking northwest and then east, it’s easy to imagine how soldiers from past centuries defended the city. The walk actually requires to paying careful attention to each step, for maneuvering up and down the steps and turns can be a it tricky at times. My favorite view comes when you make it around to the northern wall towards the Damascus Gate. Looking east, the vantage point of the hustle and bustle of the Muslim Quarter is unique. Looking north however, one gains the exact same perspective as British Major-General Charles Gordon of the 19th century. It was from near this northern gate that one can see the rocky scarp of the Garden Tomb, an alternative site for the place of crucifixion and burial of Jesus. It’s located just beyond the Arab bus depot today. While Gen. Gordon was motivated to find an alternative Protestant location for Calvary, the view is nonetheless unique.
Continuing to walk eastward, walkers of the wall have the option to end the walk here at the Damascus Gate or Herod’s Gate further east. The rampart walk is available, however, on the southern side of the Old City, overlooking the Jewish Quarter.
Walking the walls is a must experience for anyone interested in seeing the Old City from up above! It’s also a great escape from the crowds of the Old City.