Attention, the place is closed for renovations!
Since Roman times, Damascus Gate has been the most important of the gates of Jerusalem.
The Ottoman gate beautifully adorns the wall even today and at the level below it, impressive remains of the Roman gate complex and a square that stood in front of it were uncovered.
The Roman gate, erected in the days of Emperor Hadrian (133, the period of the Bar Kochba rebellion) was built of three openings: the eastern (left) opening has remained almost intact, and it is possible to pass through it to the square paved with the original stones, on which a 22-meter-high column once stood, from which the distance was measured to other cities in Israel (kilometer 0).
This pillar is the source of the other name for the gate in Arabic ‘Bab al Amud’, the gate of the pillar. The pillar is clearly visible on the Byzantine map of Madaba. From the square, the two main streets went into the city: the Western Cardo and the Eastern Cardo.
It is not clear if the city was founded before the Bar-Kochva rebellion (132) or as a response to it (after 135).
Above the eastern gate, the remains of a Roman inscription from the 2nd century AD were uncovered.
The western opening still lies below the surface.
To assume also religious meanings: the area of the city was sacred. The titles of the Roman city that also appear on coins defined it as an “autonomous city, a holy city and a city of refuge”. The width of the gate was over 40 m, its height was about 20 m and it was beautifully decorated.
On both sides of the gate stand huge watchtowers, built of enormous stones, taken from earlier buildings erected in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. The eastern tower has remained at its full height (about 12 m), and it is possible to go up the original staircase that is in it directly to the promenade of the northern walls – a unique experience.
On the floor of the square is an engraving of a game board. It can be assumed that the Roman soldiers who stood at the gate for long hours prepared the plaque for themselves. Visitors who know the rules of the game are welcome to share them with us.
Aelia Capitolina was established at a junction connecting the city with important destinations in the four winds of heaven in an elaborate Roman road network. The gates stood in this period as monumental and free architectural elements without a wall at the border of the city and indicated the starting and ending point of its main roads and tax collection stations.
Hadrian’s Gate, the northern gate of the Roman city, was one of its four main gates and therefore its outline, its architectural plan, and its architectural decorations were extremely magnificent.
Since it is recorded on the map of Madaba, it is clear that there was a gate in the Byzantine period as well.
Even in the Crusader period, a gate stood in the same place, well fortified with a front gate.
The Roman square is one of the most impressive and complete remains of imperial Rome in Israel.
The first parts of the gate were uncovered in the 1930s and most of it in the 1960s by Jerusalem researchers Hennessy and Hamilton and in 1979-1984 M. Shield revealed the remains of the gate.
In the winter months, the site is open from 9:00-16:00 except for Friday – when the place is closed.
Events can be held on site.