Ramparts Walk in Jerusalem offers a different view of the old city. And there are Southern and Northern routes. In this post, we will visit both of them. Let’s begin!
While walking the old city’s massive walls, you can see both inside and outside from a high viewpoint, which makes it an interesting experience.
There are two routes, and both start near Jaffa gate (at different points). They are:
- The Northern Route passed above Christian and Muslim quarters. And it will lead you from Jaffa Gate to Lions Gate. It is the longer one.
- The Southern Route crosses above Armenian and Jewish quarters. And takes you from Jaffa Gate to a point between Zion Gate and Dung Gate.
You can visit both parts with the same ticket since it is valid for two days.
The routes have many stairs and narrow places. Thus, they are not accessible to people with disabilities. Moreover, do not take strollers. Instead, carry young children in carriers.
Map of the area:
On top of the diagram, I have added two markings. The blue rectangle marks the Northern Route, and the green circles denote the Southern Route.
How Long Is The Ramparts Walk?
The Old City is a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) walled area. Each Rampart Walk covers less than a half of that perimeter. A rough estimate using Google Maps suggests that the Northern route is about 1.3 km long, and the Southern walk is approximately 1 km long. Thus, it can take anywhere between half an hour to two hours to complete each of these routes.
Adults – 18 NIS.
Children (5-18 years old), Students and Retiree – 8 NIS.
You can buy the tickets either online on the official site or at the tourist office near Jaffa gate (after entering through Jaffa gate continue straight for about 20 meters, and you will see tourist office to your left).
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 09:00-17:00 (until 16:00 during winter).
Friday and Holiday Eves: 09:00-14:00
On Fridays, the Northern Promenade is closed.
During the summer months (June, July, August) opening hours are: 09:00-22:00
Note: opening hours and tickets prices were last on December 2018. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.
Ramparts Walk With Kids
From my personal experience, children love this attraction. It offers both the freedom to walk (and even run in some parts) and nice views. But, they should be supervised as there are many stairs and places where you can fall from. Also, as I mentioned in the beginning, if you are visiting with babies and toddlers then take carriers.
When To Visit
While walking on top of the walls, you will be touring under the open sun (there is no shade).
Moreover, the stones themselves will reflect the sun, and it will be hotter on the wall, then in the city below. Thus, always bring plenty of water, hats, and sunscreen. For that reason, I would recommend visiting either in the morning or in the evening. It becomes especially important if you are traveling during summer.
One extra thing that worth keeping in mind is rain. The stones will be very slippery after any rain. Thus, allow enough time for the surface to become completely dry.
The Ramparts Walk a self-guided tour. There is some information on site, but not to much and there are no booklets. Therefore, for a better experience, I would recommend being prepared. You have several options. Beyond the standard ones, I will mention two nice resources. If you love audioguides, then you can use free voice tours in the “Voice Tours in Jerusalem” app. And in case you prefer a document, here are two resources by itraveljerusalem.com: Southern and Northern.
Ramparts Walk – Northern Route
The first time we visited the Ramparts Walk, we went to the Northern Route by mistake. We intended to go to the southern route, but we entered the northern one. Initially, I thought both routes have the same entrance, but they do not (and if you take a closer look at Jaffa gate, then you will see that there is no wall where you can pass from one side of the gate to another).
As you enter the old city through Jaffa gate, about 20 meters to your left you will see a narrow staircase. As you climb the stairs to the second floor you will see an entrance to the Northern Route, and on the other side, you will find public restrooms.
Walls Of The Old City
The walls are actually not that old. They were built by Sultan Suleiman I in the 16th century.
The Walls of Jerusalem surround the Old City of Jerusalem (approx. 1 km²). In 1535, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman I ordered the ruined city walls to be rebuilt. The work took some four years, between 1537 and 1541.
The length of the walls is 4,018 meters (2.4966 mi), their average height is 12 meters (39.37 feet), and the average thickness is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The walls contain 34 watchtowers and seven main gates open for traffic, with two minor gates reopened by archaeologists.
In 1981, the Jerusalem walls were added, along with the Old City of Jerusalem, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.
Coexistence of different religions:
Once you have entered there are no guides, staff, nobody beyond tourists. There will be different exits (one-way rotating doors), but from our experience, some of them were closed. Thus, you either will have to go till the end of the route or back to the beginning point. Thus it can take more time than expected.
The New Gate is the newest gate in the walls that surround the Old City of Jerusalem. It was built in 1889 to provide direct access between the Christian Quarter and the new neighborhoods then going up outside the walls. The arched gate is decorated with crenelated stonework. The New Gate was built at the highest point of the present wall, at 790 meters (2,590 ft) above sea level.
The reason I am mentioning the New Gate is Notre Dame Of Jerusalem Center. Just outside the New Gate, you can find Notre Dame Of Jerusalem, and that is not a coincidence.
The New Gate was built at the request of the French Consul to provide access to the Old City from the Notre Dame Hospice that was completed in 1886 and to provide Russian Christian pilgrims living at the Russian Compound (outside the Old City walls) direct access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter. Contrary to popular belief, Kaiser Wilhelm II during his visit to Jerusalem entered not through the New Gate, but the “Hole in the Wall,” made so that he wouldn’t have to dismount his carriage to enter the city.
Source for both quotes: Wikipedia
Notre Dame Of Jerusalem Center
Basic info from the official site:
In 1882 large groups of pilgrims began coming to the Holy Land under the direction of the French Assumptionists. The experience gained from there pilgrimages prompted the religious to build a center to host French pilgrims. The location of the new center would be right next to the walls of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The building would be known as Notre Dame de France.
Thanks to the help of generous benefactors, the Assumptionists were able to acquire a 4,000 square meter property right next to the French Hospital of St. Louis des Français. The cornerstone of the building was officially laid on June 10th, 1885.
In 1888, Notre Dame received its first pilgrims. The cornerstone of the Chapel was laid during the Eucharistic World Congress of 1893. The Chapel was consecrated the following year. In 1904, after twenty years of ongoing construction, the guest house was completed and crowned with the great statue of the Virgin Mary, a replica of Our Lady of Salvation in Paris.
Closeup of Dome of the Rock:
And here is how it looks from the Muslim quarter:
It was an exciting experience, and the tickets are quite cheap. But since we had bad luck with the weather (too hot), we did not reach the end and cut our trip in the middle. You continue along this route, you will pass through Damascus Gate, move above The Roman Plaza and Zedekiah’s cave, and see Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, and Herod’s Gate. This path ends at Lion’s Gate.
And now let’s continue to the second trail of the Ramparts Walk.
Ramparts Walk – Southern Route
On another occasion, during Passover vacation, we have visited the southern route.
I have mentioned Passover vacation since it is one of those attractions in the old city that kids will enjoy as well. There are narrow passes, multiple stairs, fewer people than in the old town itself, and unique view, they all contribute to the experience. But, I should warn you, you might feel your knees towards the end of this trip as there are quite many steps.
Since it was in the middle of the week, we parked at Givat HaTahmoshet and took the Jerusalem light rail till “City Hall” station. From there, it is a 5 min walk to the old city.
Approaching the Jaffa Gate:
The Entrance To Southern Route
Just after entering Jaffa gate you will see a sign on your left pointing to the Ramparts Walk. This sign points to narrow stairs that go up. If you take these stairs, then you will find a public toilet and entrance to the northern part of the Ramparts Walk. That is where we entered by mistake the last time.
The entrance to the Southern Route is located outside of the Old City. If you already entered the Old City, then you need to exit it through the Jaffa gate. After passing through the gate, turn left, and after a while, you will see signs like in the following photo.
After entering you will start climbing the stairs to the top of the wall.
You can find several informative signs along the route. But, there are very few of them. So, better come prepared.
Tower Of David
At the beginning of the Southern Route, you will be passing near the Tower of David. But, you will not see much except this view.
One interesting fact is that the Tower Of David has nothing to do with King David. It was a mistake caused by misinterpretation of Josephus Flavius’ writings. If you to find out more about this citadel and the Night Spectacular within, read my Tower Of David post.
Another tourist 😉
Old city walls:
One of the towers from inside:
While passing the Armenian Quarter, there is not much to see inside the city, thus, most of the time you will be looking outside. There you can find the Dormition Abbey and other attractions Around The Old City Of Jerusalem.
You will also get a view of Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood. This is the first Jewish neighborhood outside old city walls.
Closer view of Dormition Abbey:
And here we are almost at Zion Gate:
Standing on top of Zion Gate and looking towards Mount of Olives:
The Church that you can see in the lower right corner is the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. “Gallicantu” in Latin means cock-crow. This is in commemoration of Peter’s triple rejection of Jesus “… before the cock crows twice.” (Mark 14:30).
Jerusalem is heaven for archaeologists ;), they can always find something interesting there:
Looking back at Zion Gate:
And we are continuing our walk towards Mount of Olives.
As you can see, throughout the whole route you can find safety railing. Maybe there were several exceptions, but overall I would rank it as quite safe.
Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu:
Old city walls and Dormition:
And here you can see the dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque:
Dome of the Rock:
And if you continue along this route, then you will reach the Western Wall.
Since we were there and it was Passover (one of the Shalosh Regalim), we decided to visit the Western Wall.
Note: If you are interested in learning more about this and other nearby sites, then check my post about the Old City Of Jerusalem.
And the way back towards Jaffa Gate, we made through the market. While passing there I shot one of the antique stores.
And I will finish this post with a photo of a sewer cover. While in Jerusalem, you will see many lions. It is the emblem of the city. And it represents the “Lion of Judah.”
Ramparts Walk a lovely route where you get to see things from an elevated perspective. But, since Jerusalem has so many things to offer, the rivalry between attraction is tough. I would recommend it as a second priority. Do it if you been to Jerusalem before or you are spending at least several days in the city. And beware of the hot days.
Have you ever been to the Ramparts Walk? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Jerusalem page.