Viewing Jerusalem from Above: The Ramparts Walk
Did you know that you can see much of Jerusalem's Old City from above while staying on your feet? Take a walk along the ramparts of the Old City walls on your next trip to Israel and get a birds-eye view of the ancient city.
The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built the wall around the Old City between 1535 and 1538 in order to protect Jerusalem from invaders. In 1981, the walls received UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Since it is mostly flat on top, having been designed for patrolling defenders of the city, the wall is perfect for a leisurely walk. Just be aware that the route requires some climbing up and down steps.
There are two routes to choose from, both starting at Jaffa Gate. The southern walk is shorter and easier and takes you through the Armenian Quarter to the Jewish Quarter, ending at the Western Wall. You’ll walk by Dormition Abbey and the Church of St. Peter, as well as the historic Old City police station, located in a British Mandate era stable. Don’t forget to look in the other direction, too, toward the landmarks of the new city, including Yemin Moshe, the King David Hotel and the YMCA. If you want to cut your walk short, you can exit at Zion Gate or the Jewish Quarter parking lot.
The northern walk covers the Christian and Muslim Quarters. You can exit this walk at New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate or Lion's Gate. You will have an excellent view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of Flagellation, as well as many other churches. From Lion’s Gate, you are a hop, skip and a jump away from the Dome of the Rock. New city landmarks visible on this route include the Rockefeller Museum, Mount Scopus and its Hebrew University campus.
The wall behind the Temple Mount is closed to visitors, so it is impossible to walk around the ramparts in a full circle. If you want to see both sections, you unfortunately must retrace your steps (on the walls or on ground level) to Jaffa Gate and take the other route. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry water and bring along your camera.