Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gates of Jerusalem Then and Now, Part III -- The Lions Gate

Lions Gate also known as St. Stephen's Gate 1860
The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by four kilometers (2.5 miles) of walls built by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, in 1540.  Seven open gates serve as points of entry into the Old City.  Several other gates, some dating back to the days of the Second Temple, are sealed. 

The Lions Gate is the only open gate facing east toward the Mt. of Olives.  It stands adjacent to the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

British soldiers guarding Lions Gate
during Arab disturbances in April 1920

The "lions" carved on both sides of the gate are actually panthers, the symbol of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars (1223-1277). The panthers were believed to have been part of a Mamluki structure and placed at the gate by Suleiman to commemorate the Ottoman victory over the Mamluks in 1517.

Previous essays in this series presented the history and pictures of Zion Gate and Damascus Gate.  
1967 War -- IDF troops enter the
Old City of Jerusalem through Lions Gate

1967: Entering Jerusalem through the
Lions Gate - from the right IDF Chief
of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister
Moshe Dayan, and Jerusalem Commander
Uzi Narkis. Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi's head
is turned. (Ilan Bruner/GPO)
The Lions Gate was the point of entry for the Israel Defense Force's capture of the Old City in the June 1967 war.  The Paratroop Brigade, commanded by Gen. Motta Gur and Uzi Narkis, led the forces through the Gate.

Over the last four years the walls of the Old City have been repaired, restored and cleaned by the Israeli government in a $5 million project. 

Lions Gate today (courtesy)

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