Jerusalem, Israel

The Walls of Jerusalem

By Gork, independent tour guide in Israel

Today one can hardly think of Jerusalem without it’s walls, but it must be remembered that Jerusalem was without walls, excepting some ruins, from the days of the Crusaders, 400 years before Suleiman, the sultan who ordered the walls to be built at the beginning of the 16th century.

Suleiman, known as “Suleiman the Great” also Suleiman the law giver, was a builder, true to his namesake, king Solomon of the Bible, builder of the first temple,  had the walls built in 1538, and of course the 8 beautiful gates of Jerusalem, so that the city would be safe to live in.

Suleiman can certainly be called wise because he realized that the way to attract people to a city is to make it safe for inhabitants. He was also aware of the massive economic potential of Jews, who had immigrated to the Ottoman Empire, of which he was emperor, after their expulsion from Spain. These people, being religious Jews, who saw it as an obligation to live in the holy city, would come flocking to Jerusalem, once it was made safe, with a wall around it. He was right; the Jewish population of Jerusalem tripled in one year after the walls were erected.

The walls made Jerusalem famous as a safe city and people flocked to live here, especially the Jews. One could say that the Jewish community of Jerusalem had been revived thanks to the safety ensured by the walls.

The walls of Jerusalem are only one of the many beautiful structures created by Suleiman, who was known for his aesthetic tastes. He employed one of the greatest architects the world has known, Sinan, who was also a civil engineer, famous for designing bridges, walls and military fortifications. His most famous structure is the Sulemeinia Mosque in Istanbul. His legacy continued and architects used techniques invented by him to design the Taj Mahal.

The walls were not only designed for defense, but also for beauty that would attract visitors  That’s why he included a beautiful walkway for visitors to walk along the top of the wall, to enjoy views of the city, beautified by Suleiman, who regarded Jerusalem as one of the cradles of Islam.

The walls were an important factor in increasing Jerusalem’s economic wealth, because, attracting people to live here the land around the outside of the walls started to be cultivated as it had only been in the days of Solomon. Food was produced to feed the ever increasing population. Taxes were collected by Suleiman’s Janisaries at each of the gates, from merchants wanting to enter the city to sell their wares.



About Gork, independent tour guide in IsraelProfile image of tour guide Gork
Autobiography. I was born in a little town in S. Africa by the name of Krugersdorp where I did all the wonderful things that go to developing a child into an adult. I attended primary school, high school and like all Jewish children, Heder (an afternoon school where I learnt the basics of the Jewish Religion, Hebrew and Jewish History), I loved all of this, but constantly felt that there was more to know than the teachers taught me. My curiosity lead me to delve deeply into the history o
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