Jerusalem: A Walled City

Does any ruins of the walls remain standing around Jerusalem? I understand the Western Wall is from the ancient Jewish Holy Temple…not to be confused with the once-standing city’s walls. I WAG they’ve all fallen and since gone, correct? - Jinx

Jerusalem still has most of its city walls–but the current walls date to the period just prior to the development of good cannons.

Jerusalem has had walls built and destroyed several times in its history. However, lacking dynamite, or Caterpillar D-9 equipment, most efforts to destroy or pull down the walls have meant that they were brought down to just a few feet above the normal surface or that they were breached in strategic places, simply to prevent them being used defensively, without actually being totally leveled.

At the time of the Roman destruction of 70, it was said that all the walls were thrown down except three towers built by Herod that were left standing to show how powerful Jerusalem had been before the Roman siege was successful.

Crusaders and Saracens each erected and destroyed walls (depending who held the city and who wanted to conquer it).

Archaeologists still study the bases of the walls in some places going back as far as the pre-Israelite Jebusites, although no current section of a wall is that old.

Photos of sections of Jeruslaem’s walls
More photos
Gates in the walls of Jerusalem

Let me also point out that while there are walls completely around the Old City, the new city extends for miles outside of them. The current walls were erected by Suleiman in the sixteenth century roughly along the path of the old Roman walls. I believe you can still hike all of the way around the Old City on top of the walls – I have done parts of it at a time on numerous occasions. The gates are all quite unique and most have a lot of historical significance. The Golden Gate, the Lion’s Gate, Damascus Gate and the Dung Gate all have lots of history behind them.

The Western Wall itself contains stones from the old retaining wall (not the actual building wall IIRC) of the second temple. Before the Romans, this may have been the only wall of Jerusalem. There are different kinds of stones in the Wall, and the ones with a border are the oldest ones which date from Herodian times. The visible Western Wall has been largely reconstructed, and extends both under the surface of what is currently the ground of the Western Wall Plaza and to the north around 200 meters under the Arab Quarter. You can walk through a politically controversial tunnel which takes you along the excavated wall.

Still there. Here’s a panoramic shot I took from those walls in Dec 2001.

Zev Steinhardt

When I was last there you could still walk along long stetches of the wall, you know, along the top … might have changed since then.

Of course, some of what is there now has been rebuilt and repaired, etc. Still very impressive, though.

So that’s what you look like.

Actually, I took the picture. (Unless you’re referring to the other photos in the set. In that case, I don’t really look like that anymore, as I’ve lost 70 pounds since then.)

Zev Steinhardt