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Happy birthday, Zion Gate

by michael July 29 2008
Municipal newsThings to do

While extremely unfortunate planned renovations to Zion Square are a point of contention in the city, nobody can raise a fuss when a similarly-named landmark - the Old City's Zion Gate - gets treated to a timely restoration.

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Something old, something new, something riddled with bullet holes

The gate, which allows passage between Mount Zion and the border of the Armenian and Jewish Quarters within the Old City's walls, received a six-month, 800,000 NIS makeover courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with financial support from the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality. Years of grime were removed, the dedicatory plaque installed by the great builder Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman sultan who commissioned the walls, was painstakingly restored, and efforts were taken to preserve for posterity the hundreds of pockmarks left by bullets and shells fired during the brand-new Israeli army's unsuccessful attempt to break the Arab armies' blockade of the Jewish Quarter during the 1948 war.

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IAA worker restoring Suleiman's dedicatory plaque

The city celebrated the completion of the work yesterday with a special 468th birthday bash for the newly resplendent gate. 468 years is a bit of an odd number to get excited about (is it a gematria thing?), but then again, we had quite a bit of flag-waving over 41 years of unification just a couple months ago - and it's not like Jerusalemites need much excuse to party. The bash was attended by, ahem, Jerusalem's other great builder, Mayor Uri Lupolianski, and veterans of the heated battle for the Jewish Quarter 60 years ago.

Jerusalemite recommends that you mosey on down to the Old City to appreciate the fine renovations on the gate. Just don't shoot it.

Photos courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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