HALF MOON BAY, Calif., February 8, 2012—For some, just getting to Jerusalem is a lifetime goal. The ancient city lures pilgrims and historians who flock to shrines important to three faiths.
Those looking for an added boost of adventure can get a different perspective by walking around the Old City atop its 16th-century ramparts.
The surrounding walls of Jerusalem’s Old City date to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. Work began on the 2.5-mile-long ramparts in 1537 and was completed in 1541. There are seven open entrances, or gates, in the walls: Damascus, Dung, Herod’s, Jaffa, Lions’, New and Zion.
Jerusalem’s Old City is divided into four neighborhoods, named according to the ethnic affiliation of the majority of its inhabitants: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. The dividing lines for the quarters are the street that runs from Damascus Gate to the Zion Gate and the street leading from Jaffa Gate to Lion’s Gate.
By walking along the stone ramparts, you get a closer view at how people live within the city, as well as a different look at the city beyond the walls. The path along the walls can be accessed from two places at Jaffa Gate and one entrance at Damascus Gate. The entrances are not the easiest to find, for example, the one at Damascus Gate is on the left side of the gate when looking at it from outside the walls.
Each entrance charges 16 NIS ($4.32 USD) for adults and 8 NIS ($2.16 USD) for children. The wall paths are open daily, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in summer). For groups of 25 adults or more, it’s possible to reserve evening excursions. The walk itself isn’t very strenuous, however there are many sets of stairs along the way.
My walk along the ramparts was part of a tour given by Yariv Hen of Israeli Guide—especially helpful if you want to get a wealth of historical information along with your adventure.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill and her husband are avid kayakers and own Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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