On the Path of Caravans and Visitors – Jaffa Gate

In the past, roads left Jaffa Gate leading to Jaffa and Hebron. These roads gave the gate its name in both Hebrew and Arabic

The name of the gate in Arabic is Bab al-Khalil, the Hebron Gate. The gate has always teemed with activity, serving as a meeting point for merchants, travelers and passersby.

An inscription is carved into the stone above the gate blessing Allah and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who built the gate and the wall in the 16th century. The inscription also refers to Abraham, who is known in Arabic as khalil Allah – a friend of God.

In the second half of the 19th century the traffic of visitors and pilgrims to Jerusalem had increased dramatically, and Jaffa Gate was the main entrance gate into the Old City. Adjacent to the gate were stores and stalls, and the market that developed there welcomed visitors as they entered the city’s gates. Alongside the gate was a stagecoach station, providing service between Jerusalem and Jaffa. The British wanted to preserve the façade of the walls, so they removed all of the buildings that had sprung up alongside it. They passed regulations prohibiting construction adjacent to the walls, and these laws are still in effect today.

In 1907 a clock tower was built above the gate to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Sultan Abed al-Hamid II, but the British removed this as well. Outside the gate you can still see indications of the stores that had been located near the wall.

We walk in through the Jaffa Gate. On the left are two gravestones with decorations that resemble turbans. Legend has it that these are the tombs of the engineers who built the wall for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

According to one version of the story, the Sultan beheaded them as soon as they completed the construction work because they failed to include Mt. Zion inside the city wall. According to another version, the Sultan was quite pleased with their work, but was afraid that they would go on to construct similarly beautiful walls for other rulers, so he cut off their heads…

The road leading into the Old City was paved for the visit by German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898.

The Kaiser had wanted to enter Jerusalem while astride his horse, like a Crusader entering the city gates. So the moat that surrounded the Citadel was filled in and a road was paved into the Old City to honor the Kaiser and his entourage.

From here we can enter the David street - the famous market of Jerusalem's Old City.