Jaffa Gate is the portal separating modern west Jerusalem from the sanctified, pilgrim-worn stones of the Old City; Damascus Gate performs the same division between the Old City and modern east Jerusalem. The most architecturally impressive of the Ottoman Old City gates, Damascus Gate is the heart of Arab Jerusalem, funneling Arab Jerusalemites into the mercantile bustle of the Muslim Quarter souk and back out again.
Like most of the Old City's gates, it goes under multiple names; the English name refers to its position at the head of the old Ottoman road to Damascus, while Arabs call it Bab Al-Amud, Gate of the Pillar, in reference to a Roman column which once stood in the area; Jews call it Sha'ar Shechem, Shechem Gate, after the famed Israelite city now lying under Nablus.
The plaza outside the gate is a constant whirl of activity during the day, and visitors can participate in Jerusalem traditions like being served a cup of hot, muddy Arab coffee from an enormous dispenser carried on the back of the vendor. The area is generally safe at night, although attacks, both political and not, have been known to happen, so exercise your good sense.
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