Damascus Gate declared restored after IAA work

Destroyed in ’67 war, crown above gate repaired in four-year project.

Damascus Gate 311 (photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)
Damascus Gate 311
(photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)
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 Old City.
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 City Walls.
“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 Authority.
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 Gate.
“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 statement.
“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 said.
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.
Restoration 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.