Six kilometers of Jerusalem's Old City alleys announced wheelchair accessible

After a decade of work, some six kilometers of the Old City's winding alleys are now accessible for wheelchairs, baby carriages and people who are blind.

 New ramps in the Old City of Jerusalem, part of six kilometers of alleys made wheelchair friendly. (photo credit: EAST JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT LTD.)
New ramps in the Old City of Jerusalem, part of six kilometers of alleys made wheelchair friendly.
(photo credit: EAST JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT LTD.)

Six kilometers of alleys in the Old City of Jerusalem have been made wheelchair accessible – and an innovative accessibility system for the blind has also being installed – after ten years of work.

"We have made the Old City of Jerusalem one of the most accessible cities in the world," according to Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Ze'ev Elkin (New Hope). 

The project was carried out under the leadership of his ministry in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the East Jerusalem Development Company.

The alleys were made accessible to baby carriages and people in wheelchairs, which can now be safely wheeled between the Old City's many historical and national sites. Steep descents were flattened and railings were added to some of the steepest alleys.

And, for the first time, the Old City was also made accessible to the blind: a new app called Step Hear guides blind visitors between 60 different sites and provides information and content.

The accessibility of the Old City is part of a broader move to strengthen the Old City Basin and turn it into a magnet for visitors from all over the world, according to Elkin, who is also the Housing and Construction minister. The Company for the Development of the Jewish Quarter was recently transferred to the responsibility of his ministry, which is now working on building a comprehensive strategic plan for the Old City that develops the historic sites while maintaining its character, he said.

  New ramps in the Old City of Jerusalem, part of six kilometers of alleys made wheelchair friendly. (credit: EAST JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT LTD.) New ramps in the Old City of Jerusalem, part of six kilometers of alleys made wheelchair friendly. (credit: EAST JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT LTD.)

"The Old City of Jerusalem has become one of the most accessible ancient cities in the world," he said. "[Achieving] accessibility for the six kilometers was very complex, and it enriches the experience of the tourists in the Old City.

"The Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, under my leadership, works extensively to allow everyone to reach the historic alleys of Jerusalem and enjoy the cultural and religious richness of the city," Elkin said.