The Eastern Gate Of The Old City
The Eastern Gate is located on the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Eastern Gate leads to the Temple Mount, and faces The Mount of Olives. The Eastern Gate was destroyed by the Romans at the time of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. It is believed to have been part of the Justinian building project in Jerusalem. It is regarded as a holy site by the world’s three major religions. Each year, pilgrims from all three faiths travel to the Old City to see this wall and it’s magnificent Eastern Gate.
The beautiful Gate of Mercy is the only gate on the Eastern side of the Temple Mount. It is one of only two of the ancient gates that offered entrance from the Eastern side into the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been consistently walled since medieval times fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Ezekiel 44:1-3 where the Lord reveals to Ezekiel that the Eastern Gate will be closed and will not be reopened until the Messiah returns in glory.
The date of its original construction is controversial, since no archaeological digs are allowed at the Gatehouse. Most archaeologists believe that it was built during the Byzantine period around the year 1520, or perhaps during the early years of the Umayyad caliphate during the 7th Century.
Christians believe Jesus to be the Messiah. It was through this gate that he entered the city on a white donkey on the Sunday before Passover. This Sunday is known as Palm Sunday. Many Christians also believe that the prophecy of Ezekiel was fulfilled on the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem. His triumphal Entry was 483 years after this decree was made. Most Christians believe that this also completes the prophecy of Daniel 9:25. This was one of the events that led up to his eventual crucifixion. Each year, millions of Christian Pilgrims travel to see this Holy Site. This is a major Pilgrimage Site for Christians of many denominations. This is a prime historical and Holy Site. It is as mysterious as it is magnificent!
The common international custom in which a bridegroom carries his new bride across the threshold of their first home may have its beginnings here at this beautiful gate. It is thought to be based on some of the traditional symbolism of the Eastern Gate. Much of this symbolism comes from the Apocrypha, a group of books not considered in the Cannon by all Christian faiths. The Apocrypha is in the Cannon of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Regardless of where it comes from, this is a favorite custom in many countries.
According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter through this gate riding on a white donkey. Since the time of the destruction of the Temple, the Jews come to the wall to pray for the re-building of the wall, temple, and the Eastern Gate. The rock, that is located inside the Dome of The Rock Shrine is believed to be the location where Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac . This is located just to the left of the gate on the Temple Mount or the Western side. They pray for the Spirit of God to return to the city. They wait for the Messiah to come through this gate asking for Mercy for his people. They call the gate, “The Gate of Mercy.”
For the Muslims this is the Golden Gate. Each of the two doors has its own name. The Southern door is The Door of Mercy and the Northern door is The Door of Repentance. The Dome of The Rock Shrine has a large beautiful dome. It is located to the left of the gates on the Temple Mount. The Dome of The Rock was built as a shrine. It is not a typical Islamic Mosque. The rock is the center of the shrine. It is considered to be the center of the world. Islamic believers regard this as the site where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Muslim pilgrims travel to see these Holy Sites throughout the year, especially during their Holy Days.
Historians and Archaeologists consider this to be one of the most important of the current digs under the Eastern Wall. They hope to discover even more of the treasures of the Temple Mount. Workers have been able to uncover many of the mysteries located under the Eastern Gate and the Temple Mount. One of the most exciting treasures found was the discovery of Solomon’s Stables.
Solomon’s Stables was built with recycled Herodian stones. Herod did not allow any disturbance of the Eastern Gate or any re-building of the cloisters on the Eastern Wall. This places the building of this structure after the construction of the Herodian Walls. The Herodian Walls were completed in the year 66 A.D. Even though the Crusaders called this beautiful arched structure Solomon’s Stables, many archaeologists believe they were most likely not built during the time of King Solomon. Other archaeologists have dated this structure back to the time of the Second Temple.
Currently, as of the 1990’s, archaeologists are now no longer considering that they are ‘Solomon’s’ stables. The majority of archaeologists and excavators from Tel Aviv University now believe that the stables were constructed during the ninth or eighth century BC. This dates them to the Israelite Kingdom. Regardless of when they were built, they are a beautiful structure. Perhaps as this dig continues, we will know for certain, one day, who built them and when. For now, this is one of the great mysteries of the Eastern Wall.
Behind the Eastern Gate is a gatehouse and a set of stairs leading to the upper level of the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount has been a Jewish Historical Site for over 4,000 years. Inside the gate house are two beautiful ancient Roman columns and other artifacts. The gatehouse dates back to the time of the Byzantine period. The gate was most likely built in the 6th or 7th Century AD. It seems to have been built over the ruins of the Second Temple Gate. This gate has been sealed since the 16th Century. The Western side of the wall and gate are visible from the Temple Mount. There is also a Muslim Cemetery on the Western side of the wall.
The rabbis believed that a mighty military leader would be sent from God to give the city freedom from foreign domination. Orthodox Jews believe he will enter at the Eastern Gate. The Muslim Cemetery was constructed by the Muslims in the effort to block the return of this military leader. They believed that no holy man would enter the cemetery. However, according to Jewish belief, this will not stop the return of the Messiah through the Eastern Gate.
While at the Eastern Gate, be sure to check out all the beautiful gates surrounding this Holy City. There are a total of eight gates and most of them are used daily giving access to this ancient city. These gates give daily access to all the Holy Sites, markets, Synagogues, and Mosques.
On the Northwestern side there is the Damascus Gate. This is considered a main entrance into the city. It leads out to the City of Nablus, and in ancient times it continued on to Damascus in Syria. On the North side is Herod’s Gate and on the Northeast wall is the Lions Gate. The Lion’s Gate leads to the Via Dolorosa, which for many Christians is one of the most important things to visit in Jerusalem. This is the route that Jesus walked as he was led to be crucified. This is a major route for Christian pilgrims.
On the South side of the Western Wall you will find the Dung Gate. The present gate was built by the Ottomans and is on the South end of the Western Wall. This is the main way to enter the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. This is a major pilgrimage site especially for the Jewish pilgrims. Though it is visited daily by pilgrims representing all the major faiths. On the Southwest side is the Zion Gate. It is the main gate leading into the Jewish Quarter.
On the Western side of the old city is the Jaffa Gate. It dates back to the Ottoman empire of the 16th Century. It is the main gate used to go back and forth from the Western and Eastern sections of the city. There is also a New Gate on the Western Wall. It was built to give easy access between the Monasteries, located outside the walls and the Christian Quarter. It was built in 1889.
Each of these gates provides a different view of the Holy City. They each lead to major Holy Sites and fantastic markets. While the Eastern Gate is a major focus for each of the three major religions, each of these eight gates are unique and historically significant.
As you travel the area around these magnificent gates, you will see many markets and synagogues. You will also travel between each of the four quarters of the ancient city. The Jewish Quarter, Armenian Quarter, which is made up totally of Armenians, the Muslim Quarter, and the Christian Quarter all make up this ancient city. The Christian Quarter is mostly composed of Arab Christians. Several denominations make up that quarter. Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Copts and others all live together within the Christian Quarter.
There are many ancient synagogues, churches, and mosques in these quarters. It makes for a nice walk to just stroll through the ancient city and wander the many different market places. Each quarter has a major market that serves the specific needs of the quarter it is in. You will find clothing and fabric, household needs, and antiques. There is almost anything you could desire at these markets.
There are many hotels near the old city. If you are planning to spend most of your time in the old city, you may want to consider those that are closest to the walled city. There are also several hotels in the old city. A few major hotels in the old city are:
Suq Khan El Zeit st. no 73
Old City-Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, 72077
Hashimi Hotel is a 4-minute walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a major Holy Site. It is only an 11-minute walk to the Damascus Gate tram stop. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is close to the Tram stop. It is a short distance to the Temple Mount.
This is an easy-going hotel. Each room is furnished with antiques and as many as five guests are allowed to a room. Rooms have mini refrigerators, TV’s , and WiFi for a fee. Dorm rooms are also available. This is a 4.5 Star facility. There is a casual restaurant in the hotel.
Chain Gate Hostel
Sha’ar ha-Shalshelet St 155,
The Hostel is a Bed and Breakfast. It is located on the other side of the Temple Mount near to the Western Wall. It is also a short distance to Christ Church.
The Sephardic House
1 Batei Mahase St, Jerusalem
This is a Boutique Hotel in the Old City. It is upscale and furnished in many quality antiques with beautiful ancient Jewish paintings in the Sephardic tradition. This is a 5 star hotel and close to everything in the Old City.
There are many other hotels and hostels in the Old City, though these were some of the closest. If you desire to be close to the different gates, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and especially the beautiful Eastern Gate, then these close hotels will provide easy access.
For all the above reasons, the Eastern Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, is considered a Holy Site. Each year it is visited by pilgrims from all three major faiths, as well as historians, and other travelers from all over the world. When making your travel plans for Jerusalem, you will want to include time to explore the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, and the Eastern Gate. Be sure to explore all eight gates, the Eastern Wall and the Temple Mount. The mysteries of yesterday are everywhere. What are you waiting for? Book your Jerusalem adventure today! The Eastern Gate is waiting for you to discover its mysteries and treasures.
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