The old City Of Jerusalem - Historical Tour


The Old City of Jerusalem Historical Tour

Points of Interests

1. Damascus Gate (Bab El- ‘Amud): The Damascus Gate is one of the main Gates of the old city of Jerusalem. It is in the wall on the city’s Northwest side and connects to a highway leading out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus. Also, Bab El-Amud in Arabic means gate of the column. 

2. Suq Khan Al-Zait: This street is one of the most authentic and fas­cinating markets in the old city. The market caters to the residents of East Jerusalem for shopping and entertainment, with an abundance of goods, smells, and colors. The street starts from Damascus Gate in the North and continues south to the area of the Jewish Quarter. Since the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Grief) Crosses this street, one may very often see pilgrims marching on this route, carrying big wooden crosses on their backs, on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepul­cher. 

3. Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The church is the most impor­tant site for Orthodox Christians, Armenians, and Catholics as well as other visitors who do not necessarily visit for religious reasons. Many groups of pilgrims who come to the Old City follow the route of the Via Dolorosa, which has 14 stations, the last five stages of which are located within the church itself where the final stage being the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

4. Helena’s Well: According to traditions and Coptic anecdotes, when St. Helena built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, she used water from this well. 

5. John the Baptist Church: This church is located on the Eastern side of the southern sector of the Christian Quarter Street, near the road leading to Bab Al-Khalil (Jaffa Gate). Its humble entrance is not indi­cative of what is inside, leading to a few steps and arriving at an open courtyard at the Church entrance. The church dates to the 5th centu­ry AD, and its plan includes a long Narthex and three Angles from the Eastern, Southern, and Northern sides. The church was demolished during the Persian war in 614 AD and was rebuilt and renovated by John, the Patriarch of Alexandria. 

6. The Bazaar (Souk Al-Bazaar): Used to extend from Suwaiqet Alloun near Jaffa Gate up to the junction of Souk Al-Husr and Souk El-Lah­hameen. However, it later contracted to include the area between Maristan Street and Souk Al-Lahhameen. The souk was The Roofs of The Triple Suq. 

7. The Roofs of The Triple Suq: At the eastern end of Suq Al-Husur, a metal staircase leads to the roofs of Al-Attarin, Al-Lahhamin and Al-Khawajat Suqs, as well as Khan Al-Sultan. Ascending to this roof is highly recommended for a panoramic view of the Old City with its domes, minarets and towers, Mount of Olives, the Jerusalem wil­derness horizon, the Dome of the Rock to the East, the Domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and other sites like the Citadel to the West. And since the Suqs are narrow alleys that are difficult to na­vigate, the roof offers a quieter and wider place for guidance and viewing. 

8.Mausoleum of Turkan Khatun: Turbat Al-Sayida Turkan Khatun is located on the North side of Bab Al-Silsila Road. According to the foundation inscription, it belonged to a woman, or khatun in Turkish, a daughter of one of the Uzbek princes. She was a descendant of one of the Islamic families that ruled the eastern Islamic world. It appears that Turkan Khatun wished to reside in the Old City, and when she died, she was buried in Jerusalem in this mausoleum which was built especially for her. There is also the possibility that Turkan Khatun passed through Jerusalem on her way to pilgrimage and decided to settle in it. 

9.Khan al-Sultan: After visiting the three Suqs, at the southern end of Suq Al-Khawajat is the start of the street to Bab Al-Silsilah. Ten meters further down, one finds the entrance to Khan al-Sultan, also known as Al-Wakala. It is attributed to the Mamluk Sultan Al-Zahir Barquq, who renovated it in 1386 AD. The Khan is composed of two floors, the lower of which was used for keeping animals and receiving goods arriving at Jerusalem from the countryside, while the upper floor in­cluded private areas used for receiving guests, normally traveling tra­ders. The income from this Khan was earmarked for Al-Aqsa Mosque maintenance projects. This Khan was a center for commercial life, whereby goods were priced, taxed, and distributed to retail traders. 

10. Palace of Sitt Tunshuq Al-Muthaffariyya (Qasr al-Sitt Tunshuq): can be accessed through Al-Wad Street by turning west at the cross­roads of the Bab Al-Nazir Road that leads to Al-Aqsa Mosque. It can also be accessed through Khan Al- Zait Road by turning east at the crossroads of ‘Aqabat Al-Takkiyya street. After making the turn, one must walk some distance to reach the façade of the palace, which cannot be missed because of its three large, beautiful entrances. 

11. Imara Al-Amira: The term Al- ‘Imara’ Al- ‘Amirais a Turkish word meaning a building that provides food for the poor and strangers, particularly soup. In Jerusalem, it was known as Khassaki Sultan or Ta­kiya Khassaki Sultan. The word ‘Taqiyya is originally the Turkish word ‘Tekke’ referring to a Sufi establishment.

12. Dome of The Rock: The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initial­ly completed in 691–92 at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd El-Malik. The Dome of the Rock is in the middle of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, centered in an open space that rises from the ground level of Al-Jami’ Al-Aqsa by around four meters. This space is currently known to the people of Jerusalem as the Rock Level. It is nearly square and is accessed by eight colonnades. 

13. Via Dolorosa Stations 1-9: To access the first station, Via Dolorosa (in Italian) or “The Way of the Cross”/ “The Way of Sorrow” as it is known in English, follow Al-Mujahideen Street towards Al-Wad Street, turning right as you leave St. Anne’s Church, walking 400 meters and arriving at Al-Umariyya School, the first station of Via Dolorosa. The location used to be known as Anto­nia Fortress, referring to Roman Empe­ror Antonius. 

14.Mausoleum of Sitt Tunshuq: Near the Palace of Sitt Tunshuq, oppo­site the third entrance, lies her mauso­leum. The façade of this mausoleum is amazingly designed, and it is a miniature of the façade of the palace. The mauso­leum is significant because it indicates that As-Sitt Tunshuq loved Jerusalem not only during her life but also in her death, as she asked to be buried in it. 

15. Sisters of Zion Monastery Pool: This site, which includes a large, modern convent, a Church, a small museum, and the pool, has a busy history since the establishment of Antoni’s Fortress (Umariyya Madrasa) by Herod the Great, where a pool was carved in rock, with its roof forming a ramp to the fortress. The site witnessed various stages of building and demolition, and most of what can be seen now goes back to the times of Em­peror Hadrian in the year 135, particu­larly the triple arch which resembles the Roman Bab Al- ‘Amud (Damascus Gate). 

16. St. Ann’s Church: The actual Church of St. Anne was built sometime between 1131 and 1138, during the reign of Queen Melisende. It was erected near the remains of the Byzantine Basilica, over the site of a grotto believed by the Crusaders to be the childhood home of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. It is dedicated to Anne and Joachim, the parents of Saint Mary, who according to tradition lived here. 

17. Lions Gate: It is one of seven open gates in the Old City walls. Their history highlights the start of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of Jesus from prison to crucifixion, where the Via Dolorosa begins at the Lion’s Gate. Carved into the wall above the gate are four lions, two on the left and two on the right. Suleiman the Magnificent had the carving made to celebrate the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in 1517. According to legends, Suleiman’s predecessor Selim dreamed of lions that were going to eat him because of his plans to level the city.

Distance: 2.00 Km
Time: 2-3 Hours
Challenge: Easy
  • Topo map
  • Elevation profile
  • GPX File