Arch of the Virgin Mary – Jerusalem

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We are on our way to Miriam Arch from the Crusader period. We enter the old city through the New Gate. This is the only gate among the entrance gates to the old city that is not part of the original structure of the walls built during the 16th century. The New gate was built by the Ottomans in 1889, at the request of Christian priests and following a pressure originated by the French ambassador in Istanbul.

The request was to allow for easier access between the Catholic institutions inside the walls and French Catholic institutions outside the walls such as the Saint-Louis Hospital, which was established in1851 and the hostel Notre Dame, both part of the French compound outside the walls.

We are on a street named the Christian Street, located in the heart of the Christian quarter, and in front of the arch of the Virgin Mary, named after Mary, Jesus’ mother.

The arch is decorated with a pillow-like decoration, a decoration style that was typical during the Crusader period. At that period, this arch bounded an opening that led to the Rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this is the rounded structure carrying the dome around the tomb of Christ, so the arch is evidence of an ancient eastern gate of the church. As you can see, the base of the gate is lower than the modern street level.

The gate was breached during the renovation carried out by the Crusaders in the church at the beginning of the 12th century and was later sealed by Saladin, who left only one southern entrance to the church. At a later stage, during the Ottoman rule, an overpass was built above the street, which allows direct access from the residence of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, to the second floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The wall carrying the arch is parallel to the west wall of the church.

We reached the end of this video, and as usual I have a question for you: Who was the first Crusader king of Jerusalem – the answer will appear at the end of the video.

How to get there?

Enter the old city of Jerusalem through the New Gate. Walk straight for about 100m, and turn left at Les Freres St. Continue for about 300m, and turn left to the Greek Patriarchate St. Walk till you reach the end of it – A ‘T’ junction with the Christian quarter St. Turn left and the arch will be immediately to your right.

Information Sources

  1. Book: Pathways in Jerusalem, Editors: Eyal Meiron, Publisher: Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi

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