The Damascus Gate, which is also known as Shechem Gate or Nablus Gate or in Arabic as Bab-al-Amud, meaning Gate of the Column, is an important gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The modern gate was built in 1542 by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent.
The original gate was presumably built during the time of the Second Temple. During the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the Romans built a new gate in the second century AD. In front of the Damascus Gate stood a Roman victory column, thus giving the gate its name in Arabic to this day, Bab el-Amud, The Column Gate. The column has never been found, but the Roman gate can be seen today, due to excavations made during the British mandate. This was the northern entrance gate to the city at the time of the Crusades.
The gate has two towers, each equipped with machicolations. It is located at the edge of the Arab bazaar and marketplace. Unlike Jaffa Gate, where stairs rise towards the gate, in the Damascus Gate, the stairs descend towards the gate. In 1972, right-wing activist Rabbi Meir Kahane proposed that mezuzot be attached to the gate, to secure the Jewish claim to the gate. After repeated protests from Arab residents, the Israeli government refused to consider Kahane's proposal. Today, only three of the Old City's gates have mezuzot attached.
While the proper English name of the gate is "Damascus Gate", in Hebrew it is called Sha'ar Shechem, meaning "Shechem (Nablus) Gate". Israeli media frequently refer to it as 'Shechem (Nablus) Gate' in English language publications as well. In either case, the name refers to a city north of Jerusalem, since the Damascus Gate is the main north-facing gate of the Old City.
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