Thursday, May 2, 2013
Famous Gates of Jerusalem
Jerusalem’s old city walls built in the early 16th century by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, have eight gates. All but one (the Gate of Mercy) still serve Jerusalemites and visitors streaming to its markets, and sacred and historic sites. The Gates are, The Zion Gate, The Dung Gate, Gate of Mercy, Lion’s Gate, Herod’s Gate, Damascus Gate, The New Gate and The Jaffa Gate.
This FDC dated 17.4.1972, given to me by my dear friend Merja, has two of the set of stamps The Golden Gate and the Lion’s Gate issued to commemorate the Gates of Jerusalem.
The Golden Gate, as it is called in Christian literature, is the oldest of the current gates in Jerusalem's Old City Walls.According to Jewish tradition, the Shekhinah (Divine Presence) used to appear through this gate, and will appear again when the Messiah comes (Ezekiel 44:1–3) and a new gate replaces the present one; that is why Jews used to pray for mercy at the former gate at this location. Hence the name Sha'ar Harachamim, the Gate of Mercy. In Christian apocryphal texts, the gate was the scene of a meeting between the parents of Mary, so that Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate became a standard subject in cycles depicting the Life of the Virgin. It is also said that Jesus passed through this gate on Palm Sunday. In Arabic, it is known as the Gate of Eternal Life. In ancient times, the gate was known as the Beautiful Gate. Remains of a much older gate dating to the times of the Second Jewish Temple were found. The present one was probably built in the 520s AD, as part of Justinian I's building program in Jerusalem, on top of the ruins of the earlier gate in the wall. An alternate theory holds that it was built in the later part of the 7th century by Byzantine artisans employed by the Umayyad khalifs. The gate is located in the middle of the eastern side of the Temple Mount. The portal in this position was believed to have been used for ritual purposes in biblical times.
The Lions' Gate (St. Stephen's Gate or Sheep Gate) is located in the Old City Walls of Jerusalem and is one of seven open Gates in Jerusalem's Old City Walls. Located in the east wall, the entrance marks the beginning of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of Jesus from prison to crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa. Near the gate’s crest are four figures of panthers, often mistaken for lions, two on the left and two on the right. They were placed there by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to celebrate the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in 1517. Legend has it that Suleiman's predecessor Selim I dreamed of lions that were going to eat him because of his plans to level the city. He was spared only after promising to protect the city by building a wall around it. This led to the lion becoming the heraldic symbol of Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem already had been, from Biblical times, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, whose emblem was a lion (Genesis 49:9).