Holy Land Pilgrimage with Gila

 

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"
WALK ABOUT ZION, GO ALL AROUND IT, COUNT ITS TOWERS,
CONSIDER WELL ITS RAMPARTS; GO THROUGH ITS CITADELS,
SO YOU MAY TELL THE NEXT GENERATION THAT THIS IS GOD,
OUR GOD FOREVER AND EVER”                                   PSALMS 48
                                                                           

Holy Sites -- Gila's HighlightsLet's walk the Old City Ramparts

When Nehemiah, a nobleman of high rank in the court of Persian king Artaxerxes, heard that Jerusalem’s walls were broken down and that its gates had been burned, he begged the king to be allowed to return to Jerusalem with a royal order to rebuild its walls.  Accompanied by horsemen and many friends in a long journey of nearly 1,000 miles, Nehemiah arrived in the Holy City.

Immediately he discovered that certain local officials were threatened by his concern for the welfare of the city and its residents.  Without telling anyone what was in his heart, Nehemiah arose at night to “inspect the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 2:13)

With a determined stick-to-it-ness, Nehemiah organized a big public works project and drafted laborers from the High Priest down to simple farmers from Jericho and herdsmen from Tekoa.  He put watchmen on the walls to protect the builders and sounded the shofar (ram’s horn) to rally the men in time of danger.  For 52 days they toiled from dawn till the appearance of the first stars.  To celebrate the completion of the building of the city ramparts, there was a great assembly where Ezra the Scribe read the Book of the Law of Moses.

Of course our present day walls are not the same as Nehemiah’s, but not much has changed since the time Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned the rebuilding of the walls in 1536.  (For us Jerusalemites, this is ‘modern’ history – for you, in the ‘New World,’ it is just 44 years after Columbus discovered America.)
 

Ramparts Walk above the Damascus Gate

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Ramparts Walk above the Damascus Gate

 
Just reopened, after a closure of six years, the city ramparts walk is an ideal way to inspect the walls and gates of Jerusalem’s Old City.  Entrance to the ramparts is from inside the Jaffa Gate, on the left (north side).  Once you ascend the tower, you’ll be rewarded with a singular view of The Citadel, originally built 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great Builder.

In 1898, the Citadel’s Crusader moat was filled in and the wall breached in honor of the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Not content to enter through the Jaffa Gate by foot as Omar, the Moslem conqueror of Jerusalem, had in 638, Kaiser Wilhelm II insisted on making a grand entrance with an entourage of a few thousand people.
 

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High above the Jaffa Gate we can peer through the loophole, designed during the Crusader period so the archers could easily shoot out, but the enemy would be hard-pressed to accurately target the defenders of the city.  If the enemy even attempted to storm the city, there is an opening in the floor which would allow the defenders to pour hot tar or boiling oil on anyone daring to approach the city gate. The enemy then would be extended a very “warm” welcome!

We head north, along the wall bordering the Christian Quarter of the Old City.
What we realize on this tour is that the Old City is more than a collection of bazaars, churches, mosques and synagogues.  That it is a vibrant city with women hanging out wash, kids crawling on multi-colored jungle gyms, teens playing soccer and pensioners tending their lemon trees and grape arbors, all in the shadow of the familiar domes, towers and steeples.
 

View from above St. Stephen's Gate

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View from the ramparts above St. Stephen's or Lions Gate

 

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This one to two hour walk takes us above the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate and Lions Gate and provides unparalleled views of the Christian and Moslem Quarters, Gordon’s Calvary, the Rockefeller Museum, Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives.  Photographers should come prepared with lots of film or digital memory.  You can never predict what beauty or inspiration will come your way.
 

From Jaffa to New Gate

Christian Quarter view

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The ramparts from Jaffa to New Gate

Lemon tree in the Christian Quarter

 
About security, I asked the guard at the Jaffa Gate whether it was safe for me to walk by myself.  With a wave of his hand and a backward tilt of his head, he sent me forward.  It seems that very few know that the ramparts have reopened, for I passed only two souls on the wall-walk – a Canadian tourist and a local jumping up from the Lions Gate to take a shortcut home from school.

As a precautionary measure, however, I suggest you ascend the ramparts with a minimum of four.  Or – bring a shofar like Nehemiah’s guards.  As a further precaution, pay attention to the closing time when they lock the rampart gates, or you may find yourself inspecting the city walls by nightfall, as Nehemiah did!
 

Copyright 2006, 2012 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

 

Gordon's Calvary

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View of Gordon's Calvary from the ramparts

 
Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a Connecticut Yankee living in King David’s Court, has been walking the ramparts since they first opened to the public in 1979.  If you'd like to sing on the ramparts, choose your favorite from the best-selling folk hymns CD, "From the Bible for Revival."  My favorite is "Todah," sung by Haim Moshe to a Turkish melody.  This fits the mood of the ramparts which was commissioned by Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-sixteenth century.
 

Coming to Jerusalem in 2015?  Are you coming from very far away and want every minute to matter?  Would you like to experience both the authentic and the traditional sites, yet you are most interested in finding the venues where you can quietly be transported back in your imagination to the time of Jesus?  David?  Abraham?

Make every minute matter while you "Explore Jerusalem's Soul" with Gila's Guide.  This up-to-date PDF (Adobe Acrobat) 46-page guide gives you the Top Ten places to meditate on the Bible, the Top Ten lesser-known churches worth visiting, the Top Ten most rewarding roof-top views and the top Ten places for Middle Eastern food.  More...

"Let's walk the Old City Ramparts" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was: "Let's meet Naaman and Elisha in Samaria."  This month's highlight is:  "Let's locate the Cove of the Parables."  The next highlight will be:  "Let's not visit where Samson brought the house down."
 

More on Jerusalem:

     
Ask gila about hyssop -- the holy land spice

Pilgrims talk about Easter at the Garden Tomb

Let's orient ourselves to Jesus' Jerusalem

Hyssop:  holy land spice

Garden Tomb

Holy Land Model

     

Orientation to the Old City | Nine Gates in Hebrew, English and Arabic

Are there excavations on the Temple Mount?

Veronica's handkerchief

Gates of the Old City

Temple Mount excavations?

 

 

 
Let's read Luke 2 by Robinson's Arch

Let's meet where Mary met Elizabeth

Let's see where the Priestly Benediction was found

Robinson's Arch

Mary meets Elizabeth

Priestly benediction

 


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin