Lions' Gate, Jerusalem

Lions' Gate, Jerusalem

This gate on Jerusalem's eastern ramparts is known by multiple names. While commonly referred to as the Lions' Gate due to the pair of beasts flanking the entrance, it is also called Saint Stephen's Gate after the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death outside the city. His tomb was originally located near the Damascus Gate but was later relocated here for the convenience of Christian pilgrims.

In Arabic, the gate is known as Bab al-Ghor ("Jordan Valley Gate") or "Gate of Our Lady Mary", since the Virgin is believed to have been born just inside. Yet another Arabic name is Meshikuli, which in more modern terms would mean "wicket" – a small opening in a wall – through which, back in the day, people could observe approaching enemies and, in case of attack, pour boiling oil or tar onto their heads.

Legend has it that the emblematic lions flanking the gateway (although one school of thought insists that they are panthers) were originally symbols of the Mamluk sultan Baybars I and were placed there by Suleiman the Magnificent in celebration of his successful campaign to rid the Holy Land of Crusaders. Another story suggests that Suleiman had the panthers installed after dreaming that he would be eaten by lions if he didn't rebuild Jerusalem's ramparts.

Despite its age and historical significance, the Lions' Gate remains remarkably well-preserved, having never undergone restoration. Visitors should be prepared for crowds, particularly on Fridays when Muslims gather for prayer at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Jerusalem. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Lions' Gate on Map

Walking Tours in Jerusalem, Israel

Create Your Own Walk in Jerusalem

Create Your Own Walk in Jerusalem

Creating your own self-guided walk in Jerusalem is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Jerusalem Old City Walking Tour

Jerusalem Old City Walking Tour

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, the Old City of Jerusalem is best explored on foot, since its narrow streets and alleys make it almost an entirely vehicle-free zone. In addition to hosting four ethnic quarters, – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian – it is packed with major historical and religious sites, which all make a trip here unique, unforgettable and not to be missed.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Mount Zion Walking Tour

Mount Zion Walking Tour

For those interested in religion and history, Mount Zion offers several unique sights that are situated in close proximity to each other. An important place for Christians, Jews as well as Muslims, it holds important constructions dating from the 20th century as well as a compound built by the Crusaders that marks the spot of both King David’s tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. How...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Armenian Quarter Walking Tour

Armenian Quarter Walking Tour

Smaller and quieter than the Old City's other three quarters, the Armenian quarter contains a series of winding cobblestoned streets and alleyways teeming with people, shops, coffee stands, ceramic workshops and hookah bars. A city in miniature with distinct language, alphabet and culture, it has been in place since the 4th century, when Armenia adopted Christianity as a national religion.
...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Mount of Olives Walking Tour

Mount of Olives Walking Tour

Aside from affording great views over the Old City, the Mount of Olives is home to half a dozen major sites of the Christian faith along with the oldest Jewish burial ground in the world. Considered a holy spot by many, it is associated with numerous events in Jesus’ life including ascending to Heaven and teaching his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.

The following self-guided walking tour will...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Muslim Quarter & Temple Mount Tour

Muslim Quarter & Temple Mount Tour

The largest, most populous and perhaps most chaotic of all Jerusalem’s quarters, the Muslim Quarter is worth exploring for its unique atmosphere. Spending a day here may take you back to a simpler time, but be prepared for many sights and sounds as you pass many vendors, stores and restaurants on your way from site to site.

Some of the city’s most interesting city gates (Damascus and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Bethlehem Walking Tour

Bethlehem Walking Tour

Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judaean Desert, Bethlehem has been known to the world, for more than two millennia, as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The “star of Bethlehem” as well as Christmas carols and hymns are firmly associated with this ancient city in the West Bank, Palestine, and thus, for some visitors, the bustle of a modern city may come as a surprise.

Undoubtedly, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


16 Uniquely Israel Things to Buy in Jerusalem

16 Uniquely Israel Things to Buy in Jerusalem

Modern day Jerusalem is a mosaic of neighborhoods, reflecting different historical periods, cultures, and religions. The influx of repatriates in recent years has made the cultural and artisanal scene of the city even more colourful and diverse. To find your way through Jerusalem's intricate...