Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ramparts, a recap

I believe I left off last week with the cliffhanger of sorts, my friend Danyl and I were to walk the ramparts.  The ramparts are the walls of the Old City.  As a walled city, the ramparts refers to the top of wall where city defenders would take position to fire arrows, hurl rocks, spears, and various furniture down atop invaders.  I am sure boiling oil and other nasty stuff was tossed off too.  It is a great way to see the city, both old and new.

Entrance is 16 NIS and starts at Jaffa Gate which is the main entrance on the western side of the Old City.  Pictures will say it all best, but the sites where very impressive.  A melange of old world technology, historical juxtaposition, everyday modern life, and plenty of mystery.
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The walk atop the ramparts is precarious at times, with many small diversions onto raised or outcropping sections of the walls.  The stone is the ubiquitous Jerusalem stone; hard, kaki, dressed or undressed, it is the fabric of this place, and that means hard and bright, and most of all, enduring.

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Many interesting symbols appear while walking here.  These mosaics are in the flooring of a Christian compound.  Much of the Old City is occupied by such compounds, and our ramparts walk took us around and past many unidentifiable sects.

Danyl and I enjoyed smoking our cuban cigars while atop these ramparts.  I have to say it felt good, like we had in some way conquered the city ourselves and enjoyed a congratulatory smoke while taking in the views.

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The ramparts took us along the top of the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Lion Gate and ended at the Gold Gate, just north of the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock sits.  At the Damascus gate we saw some of the ongoing repair to these walls.  In a brief yet interesting discussion I learned that the materials used to repair the paving stones that had come loose had to be similar to the existing materials.  Well I'm glad to see this common sense sort of approach is being used to maintain such a magnificent edifice and essential part of history.
Immediately after passing over the Damascus Gate on the central northern section of the walls we happened upon a cave that was once a quarry for the Jerusalem Stone used to build many important buildings in the Old City, potentially including the sacred Temple of Solomon.  This cave is remarkable in that it underpins the very city it was excavated to build.
We ended our walk at the Gold Gate, and wandered through the lavish streets of the Old City until we found ourselves back in the Jewish Quarter for some schwarma lunch.  It was delicious and we relaxed after a long hike up and down on the hard, hard rocks of history.
If you have any questions about the pictures below, please ask in the comments and I will try to address them asap.
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Danyl's Getting a closer look.
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