January 2nd 2015
One particularly memorable way of getting a bird’s eye view of the Old City of Jerusalem is to walk along the narrow stone paths along the tops of its outer walls. Referred to as the Ramparts Walk, on this path you can traverse the Old City from above, taking in the rooftops, domes and spires of the sacred buildings that dot the Old City – as well as the gardens and courtyards of local residents. From various points along the walk, you’ll be able to view the hotels and luxury high-rise residential buildings in western Jerusalem, the cemeteries and church buildings on the Mount of Olives and daily life in the eastern parts of the city.
There are two distinct sections of the Old City Ramparts Walk. Both are included in a single ticket price. The Southern Ramparts Walk is the shorter walk. Allow yourself 40 to 55 minutes to complete the Southern Ramparts Walk, which begins near the Jaffa Gate and ends at the southern Zion Gate, though which the Israel Defense Forces entered the Old City during the Six Day War in 1967. If you exit through Zion Gate, note the pitted stones that still bear the wounds of that battle. The alternate exit for the Southern Ramparts Walk is at the Dung Gate, which is the closest gate to the Temple Mount.
The longer walk is called the Northern Ramparts Walk. It also begins near the Jaffa Gate and has three possible exit points – the New Gate, built in 1889 and leading to the Christian Quarter in the northwest; Herod’s Gate, also called the Flowers Gate and leading to the Muslim Quarter through the northern wall; or the Lion’s Gate, located on the eastern wall and leading to the Via Dolorosa. Depending on which gate you choose to exit, the Northern Ramparts Walk can take up to 75 minutes.
Some of the most interesting features of the Ramparts Walk are the breaks in the walls through which arrows were shot by archers guarding the Old City. It’s still possible to peer through these shooting holes to imagine military life in the times of the sultans.
The catwalks feature secure handrails, but there are a number of steps to climb, and there are some gaps to watch out for. The walk is not recommended for visitors with toddlers, and parents of children under 8 should not allow their children to walk alone.