After more than a year of restoration work, the Israel Antiquities Authorities
unveiled a sparkling Damascus Gate in time for the second half of Ramadan on
Tuesday, with a restored crown atop the ornately carved entrance to Jerusalem’s
The gate, part of the walls built by Suleiman the Magnificent
in 1538, previously served as the main entrance to the Old City, and was
anointed with an extravagant crown on top of the gate. The crown was destroyed
during the fighting in the 1967 Six Day War.
The crown was rebuilt and
the walls extensively cleaned as part of a four-year project to restore the Old
“The city walls and the gates are the first thing that
everyone sees when they arrive at the Old City, and it is therefore important to
us that tourists, both domestic and foreign, see the city in all its glory,”
said Elad Kendel, director of the Old City Basin at the Jerusalem Development
The project was overseen by the Jerusalem Development
Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by
the Prime Minister’s Office. Workers relied on old photographs taken during the
British Mandate era in order to replicate the original Damascus
“Because of its beauty, Damascus Gate is also the most documented
of Jerusalem’s city gates and its historical material and numerous photographs
facilitated an accurate restoration of its appearance,” Avi Mashiah, the
project’s architect from the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a
“Every single decoration, including all of its features, was
studied and restored by us down to the smallest detail, in order to provide
visitors to the gate as full and complete an experience as possible,” he
Restoring the gate was especially challenging due to the level of
commercial activity around the area, which leads to the major shuks in the
Muslim Quarter and is surrounded by vendor stalls. Most of the work was carried
out between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. in order to provide the least amount of
disruptions to the merchants, Mashiah said.
Roughly half of the Old City
walls have been cleaned and restored from the ravages of time in the past four
years, starting from the Dung Gate and moving clockwise to the Damascus Gate.
Renovations at Jaffa Gate were completed earlier this year.
includes the removal of hazards and the rehabilitation of elements in the wall.
At the various gates, workers used a laser scan to precisely measure and record
individual stones and ornamentation.