The Ramparts Walk in the Old City of Jerusalem is a gem hidden from locals and tourists alike. Hard to find, the Ramparts Walk is one of the most rewarding activities in terms of history, beauty and a greater sense of the Old City as a whole. Reasonably priced, the Ramparts Walk makes a great trip combined with the other activities and sites found in and around the Old City.
About the Ramparts Walk
Ramparts Walk – In the Armenian Quarter
The Ramparts Walk is divided into two separate walks, totally just under two miles: the north side walk and the south side walk. Both are included in the admission ticket and both have their differences. The north side walk is the longer of the two and covers a far greater area, from the Jaffa Gate (on the west side of the Old City) to the Lions Gate (on the east side, approaching the Dome of the Rock). The south side walk is shorter but ends at a more convenient location, the Western Wall (or Kotel as it is known in Hebrew). The south side walk begins at the Tower of David (on the west side of the Old City, beside the Jaffa Gate) and continues around to the south side of the city, ending off between the Zion and Dung Gates.
For those wishing to explore the Old City at ground level while already up on the ramparts, there are several places along the walks where one can descend. However, re-entry is only possible at the starts of both walks so be sure to plan accordingly. Plaques set up along the walks made identification of landmarks and sites easy with explanations in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
From the north side walk, one passes over the Christian Quarter with the numerous churches and other Vatican buildings seen, sometimes below the wall! These include views of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of Flagellation, among many, many more. The walk carries on into the Muslim Quarter, where mosques and minarets, as well as schools and playing fields, can be seen from a unique angle. Crossing over the New Gate, the Damascus Gate, the Herod’s Gate and finally the Lions Gate, the north side walk covers a great deal of area and comfortable shoes should be worn as the rock walltops are uneven and can be difficult to walk on for some. The walk ends just after the Lions Gate, approaching the Dome of the Rock mosque and either one can descend and explore or one can turn back (turning back and descending at the Damascus Gate is a great way to see a lot on the way back, including an Arab souk).
Ramparts Walk – The narrow ramparts
On the south side walk, the shorter and easier of the two, one passes by the Tower of David and only crosses over one gate, the Zion Gate. The walk covers the Armenian Quarter and ends at the Jewish Quarter, before the Dung Gate. Included in the sites are many of the Armenian churches and important historical buildings such as the Dormition Abbey and the Church of St. Peter. Additionally, the stables of the Israeli Police can be walked over – the stables a flashback to the times of the old British and Jordanian rule (where horses were used for militaristic purposes). Descending before the Dung Gate it is just a short walk to the Western Wall (Kotel) and the surrounding sites.
Visiting the Ramparts Walk
The tickets can be purchased in the ticket office beside the information office at the Jaffa Gate.
Sun – Thurs: 9am-4pm
During the summer months, the south side walk is open until 7 pm and the north side walk until 5pm
Adult: NIS 16
Child: NIS 8
There is a package deal with several other attractions in the area, including the Archaeological Gardens next to the Western Wall (Kotel).
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.