New Gate opening.
(photo credit: ALON BOSKILA)
Jerusalem just completed NIS 11 million of renovations on the New Gate entrance into the Old City, which has been transformed into a “symbolic gateway of social equality, a pioneering breakthrough in the world of accessibility in historical sites in Israel and abroad,” said Yitzhak Sabato, director of the National Insurance Institute.
On Tuesday, city leaders gathered to cut the ribbon on the new gate, which the city hopes will become a major entrance gate for tourists and visitors to the Old City. It is the first Old City gate to be made accessible for people with disabilities.
“The Jerusalem Municipality has put accessibility in the Old City at the top of its priorities, and we will continue to make many more sites in the capital accessible to achieve this goal,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said.
The director-general of the Jerusalem Development Authority, Eyal Haimovsky, expressed similar sentiments.
“Jerusalem is a pioneer in making the in accessibility to people with disabilities, a complex process in ancient sites such as the Old City of Jerusalem,” he said.
The Jerusalem Development Authority, the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the National Insurance Institute all participated in the investment for the upgrade to the gate.
Opened originally in 1889, the New Gate is the closest of the seven gates of the Old City to the Christian Quarter, which includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Morristan compound and many additional historical sites.
The New Gate project is part of a multi-year plan for the development of the Old City, which includes the development of infrastructure, improving accessibility and easing congestion. As part of the project, extensive development, restoration and preservation work was carried out: the commercial facades of the shops and cafes were renovated, and new lighting was put in place to illuminate the area. Traffic was regulated, and public space was designed for pedestrian benefit. In addition, the sewage, water, lighting and electricity infrastructures have been rehabilitated, streets have been repaved, and a parking lot has been opened for residents and for public use.
"The New Gate pedestrian mall is a project with important touristic significance, which will dramatically improve the movement of tourists in the area and provide them with a wonderful cultural experience,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “Tourism to Israel in general and to Jerusalem in particular is at an all-time high and we continue to improve the tourist experience.”
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