Gaze down at the Temple Mount from the scenic lookout atop the Mount of Olives and you may just notice something odd: In the city wall, just to the left of the Dome of the Rock, is a massive, ornate and most decidedly sealed gate. The story of the Golden Gate is one of the more bizarre chapters in the history of Jerusalem, harking back to that bygone era when "religious pluralism" meant, at best, not whacking off the heads of nonbelievers.
The gate itself is far more ancient than the surrounding walls; the current structure is a product of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I's imperial public works program in the sixth century CE, and it sits atop ruins of a Second Temple-era gate. A venerable Jewish legend holds that the Messiah will descend from the Mount of Olives and enter the city through the gate (called Sha'ar Harachamim, the Gate of Mercy, in Hebrew) – a legend which led to the Golden Gate's sealing.
Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, builder of Jerusalem's walls, had the gate closed off in a strange display of religious insecurity. To rub salt in the wound, Jerusalem's Muslims then began to bury their dead in front of the gate, which is why the gate to this day has not been re-opened.
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The Jerusalem Tourism Map:Print
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