How I rejoiced when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of Yahweh!’
And now our feet are standing
in your gateways, Jerusalem.
Thus did the pilgrims of old, in the words of Psalm 121, address the Holy City, when from afar they beheld the turreted walls of Jerusalem. Then they descended from their horses and kneeling in the dust, recollected themselves in fervent prayer and meditation. For this is Jerusalem the Holy City; holy for the Jews to whom Jerusalem appears as the synthesis of all their glories of the past, of all their hopes for the future; holy for the Moslems, who call it by no other name than “the Holy”- El Quds”-; but in a special manner is it the holy city of the Christians, for its earth was bathed in the Blood of our Saviour; here e manifested his eternal truths, here He said: “I am light of the world”; “I am the way, the truth and the life”; here He promulgated the “new commandment” of mutual love, of universal brotherhood; here, in the Last Supper Room, He instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist; here e prayed in Gethsemane; from the Praetorium to Calvary He underwent His dolorous passion; here on the Cross He died; here after three days e arose; from here e ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives.
Jerusalem is placed at an altitude of 750 m. above the Mediterranean and 1142 m. above the Dead Sea, on two elongated hills, running parallel from north to south, and divided by a valley, the Tyropoeon, in great part filled in, which runs down from the Damascus Gate to the Pool of Siloe.
The present city has two very distinct parts; the old city enclosed within the city wall and the modern city which daily grows beyond the city wall. The present city wall dates in great part from the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent; its seven gates are: west, Jaffa Gate: south, Sion Gate: and the Dung Gate: east, St. Stephen’s Gate: north, Herod’s Gate, Damascus Gate and New Gate. These are the names used in English; they are different in other languages. The walls have an average height of 12 m. and enclose an irregular quadrangle about 4 Km in circumference. They are pierced by narrow slits for defence purposes.
The streets are narrow and crooked, sometimes steep, with many a bend and many an alley. The two principal hills, on which the old city lies, have in turn certain elevations, yet discernable despite the accumulations of the ruins of centuries, and these elevations correspond approximately to the different quarters into which the city is divided: the Christian Quarter to the north-west, the Armenian Quarter to the south-west, the Moslem Quarter to the north-east, the Jewish Quarter to the south-east.
In striking contrast with the old city, the new city has developed upon European lines with wide streets and pretty suburbs running out on the hills to the west, northwest and north.
Source: Guide to the Holy Land by Eugene Hoade