Lions' Gate


This easterly gate of Jerusalem's Old City points towards the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. Although originally called Bab Al Ghor (Jordan Valley Gate), it became known as St Stephen’s Gate after the first Christian martyr, who was stoned to death at a spot nearby. The Hebrew name, Sh'ar Ha'Arayot (Lions' Gate), is a reference to the two pairs of heraldic lions carved on the exterior side of the archway.

It is thought that the feline figures (actually leopards) originated with Suleiman the Magnificent, who interpreted his dreams of fearsome beasts as a warning to fortify Jerusalem's Old City. Historians have suggested that the carved cats predate the gate and were repurposed from an older Mamluk building.

This gate is also where Israeli paratroopers fought their way into the Old City on 7 June 1967.

On Palm Sunday, a Christian procession from the Mount of Olives enters the Old City through this gate.

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