Jerusalem’s Old City entrance to get transformative upgrade

City Hall approves plan to redo the noisy, traffic-congested entrance by the Jaffa Gate to give easier access and showcase antiquities.

By World Israel News Staff

The Jerusalem Municipality planning board has approved a major overhaul of the main entrance to the historic Old City that will make it more accessible and tourist friendly, Channel 20 News reported Thursday.

The plans are for what the board calls “a new and accessible entrance” on the west side of the Old City at the Jaffa Gate – the most popular entrance to the ancient alleyways that is favored by tourists and Israelis alike.

A new complex with an elevator and tunnel will connect to the outdoor plaza in front of the Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David Museum, a popular destination that contains a history of the walled complex whose history goes back more than 3,000 years.

The area is located in what has been designated as ​​a walled national park along the route of the western wall of the Old City, the Mamilla Bridge and the Jaffa Gate, one of the most important and observed landmarks in Jerusalem.

The plan also calls for the preservation of the Byzantine archaeological complex that was first excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the 1990s when a trove of ancient artifacts were discovered during the initial phases of development of the Mamilla neighborhood.

The dig includes the remains of a bathhouse and an array of streets and shops from the Byzantine city, a water aqueduct from the Byzantine period from the fourth century AD as well as a road and a section of Ayyubid wall dating to the 13th century. All will be opened to visitors.

The new entrance will connect the large park across the street named for the late long-time Mayor Teddy Kollek so that pedestrians will not have to cross major roads as they do now and more space will be created for musical, educational and cultural activities.

“This is a historic plan, no less,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon. “The establishment of a new and accessible entrance to the Old City will allow more visitors to reach the place, comfortably and without difficulties. This is good news for Jerusalemites, residents and the entire people of Israel.”