From the Damascus Gate to Mount Scopus, Jerusalem
The area described here in Jerusalem extends from the Damascus Gate to Mount Scopus.
The Damascus Gate serves as a link between the newer districts to the north and the Old City to the south of Jerusalem. This is the starting-point of the road which runs by way of Nablus (Shekhem) to Damascus, and accordingly the first section of the road is known to the Arabs as Nablus Road and to the Jews as Shekhem Road. The gate itself is Sha'ar Shekhem (Shekhem Gate) to the Jews and Bab el-Amud (Gate of the Column), after a column from which the distance to Damascus was measured, to the Arabs. The Damascus Gate, built in 1537, is the finest and most splendid of the gates built in the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. With its two flanking towers and decorative battlements it is no less striking for its aesthetic qualities than for its defensive strength.
Roman Gate and Plaza
Under the bridge leading to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem is an archeological site, the excavation of which was completed in 1982. There are remains of a Roman square or plaza, the Third Wall, built shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70, and part of the Roman gate.
Solomon's Quarries & Zedekiah's Grotto
To the east of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem is a garden at the foot of the wall. 150m/165yds along this is an iron gate giving admission to Solomon's Quarries, a cave system with many ramifications extending under the Old City. According to an ancient tradition the stone for Solomon's buildings was quarried here. To the Jews this is known as Zedekiah's Grotto, in the belief that Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, hid here from the Babylonian forces in 587 B.C. before being captured and carried off with most of his people to Babylon.
Opposite Solomon's Quarries in Jerusalem is a short alley leading to Jeremiah's Grotto, believed to be the prison in which around 605 B.C. the prophet Jeremiah wrote his Lamentations on the forthcoming fall of Jerusalem, which actually occurred in 587 B.C. (Jeremiah 38,6).
In Nablus (Shekhem) Road in Jerusalem is an alley which leads to the Garden Tomb. Here, in a garden-like area in front of a low rocky hill which has been hewn into a vertical rock face, is a tomb which is entered through a doorway cut in the rock. This leads into a rectangular antechamber, to the right of which is the tomb chamber, with one burial place on the left and another, unfinished, on the right, under a small window. The tomb dates from the Roman or Byzantine period.The tomb was found by General Gordon in 1882 and identified by him as Christ's tomb, since it lay outside the city wall in accordance with the requirements of Jewish law. He also saw in the shape of the rocky hill the likeness of a skull (in the New Testament Golgotha is described as "the place of a skull"). Gordon's theory, however, proved untenable, among other reasons because the course of the town walls in the time of Christ was different from their present line. Nevertheless some people, particularly Anglicans, still believe that it was here that Christ was buried and rose again.
St Stephen's Monastery
Beyond St Stephen's Monastery a street goes off on the left and runs into St George Street at the site of the Mandelbaum Gate, which from 1948 to 1967 was the only crossing-point between the Israeli and Jordanian sectors of Jerusalem. There was in fact no gate: merely a passage between barbed wire entanglements. It took its name from the owner of a nearby house, the site of which is marked by a plaque.
Tombs of the Kings
A little street runs past St George's Church (Anglican) in Jerusalem into Nablus Road. Immediately north of this church, where Saladin Street runs into Nablus Road (on right), are the very interesting Tombs of the Kings, within the area of the American Colony founded in 1881. At the foot of 26 broad rock-cut steps, to the right, is a vertical face hewn from the rock in which can be seen two water channels and cisterns. To the left is a round-arched doorway in the rock leading into a spacious courtyard with the rock-cut facade of the tombs. Three steps lead down into an antechamber with a Doric frieze, and in the left-hand corner of this is the low entrance to the interior, once sealed by a round stone (which is still there). Beyond this is a central chamber giving access to a number of tombs on two levels. The site was acquired by a French-Jewish Woman in 1874 and after her death passed to the French government. Sarcophagi from the tombs are now in the Louvre. The name "Tombs of the Kings" which was given to them was based on the assumption that this was the burial-place of the kings of Judah, but in fact the tombs date from a much later period. They were constructed by Queen Helen of Adiabene (present-day Kirkuk, between Mosul and Baghdad), a convert to the Jewish faith who came to live in Jerusalem about A.D. 45. Adiabene had won its independence after the fall of the Seleucid empire in the second century and its governors had become kings. Helen, a great benefactress of the people of Jerusalem, took the Jewish name of Sara Melaka (Queen Sarah), and this name, in Aramaic script, appears on one of the sarcophagi in the Louvre.
Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, built by John D. Rockefeller in 1927, displays finds dating from the Stone Age to the 1700s.
From the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem we go west along Shmuel Ben Adiya Street and turn left into Mount of Olives Street, which runs north to the older campus of the Hebrew University (opened 1925, with much recent building) on Mount Scopus (813m/2667ft). North of this are the Hadassah Clinics and the massive Augusta Victoria Hospital, which was financed by the German Emperor William II.
Museum on the Seam
Museum on the Seam is a Socio-political Contemporary Art Museum in Jerusalem. The Museum is a one of a kind institution, unique in Israel - dealing with contemporary art conveying social commentary.
From the Damascus Gate to Mount Scopus Pictures
Map of Jerusalem Attractions