Gates of the Temple Mount

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The Temple Mount viewed from southeast
Map of the Temple Mount; some gates are described in the map

The Temple Mount, a holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, also known as the al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, contains twelve gates. One of the gates, Bab as-Sarai, is currently closed to the public but was open under Ottoman rule. There are also six other sealed gates. This does not include the Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem which circumscribe the external walls except on the east side.

List of openable gates[edit]

The following is an anti-clockwise list of gates which open onto the Al-Aqsa Compound. Currently eleven gates are open to the Muslim public. Non-Muslims are only permitted to enter through the Moroccan (or Magharibah) gate.[1] The keys to all the gates, with the exception of the Moroccan gate are held by the Islamic Waqf; but they can only open or close gates with the permission of Israel.[2]

Gate of the Tribes (Bab al-Asbat)[edit]

Gate of the Tribes

The Gate of the Tribes (Arabic: باب الأسباط Bāb al-ʾAsbāṭ, Hebrew: שער השבטים) is located at the north-eastern corner of the compound. Its name refers to the Twelve Tribes of Israel ("Bani Isra'il") who left Egypt and came to the Holy Land/Bayt al-Maqdis to find the Promised Land.[3] Bab al-Asbāt is located to the east of the short northern side of the compound. Behind the gate, there is also a road as the Lions' Gate in the old city (also known as St Stephen's Gate).

Asbāt gate is one of the important ancient gates and the gate names had been given by Ibn al Fakih and Ibn Abd' Rabbih two earliest authorities.[4] The Asbāt gate was first built by the Mamluk Ruler Bybars.[5] Later, the door was renewed by Sultan Süleyman I during the Ottoman period. According to a legend, Sultan Suleyman I, who had a bad dream, is claimed to have started to renew the walls of Jerusalem (Beit el-Maqdis) after this dream.[6]

The Asbāt gate is located on the northern wall of the Haram al-Sharif and it is in the double gateway also, it is almost directly opposite Ahwab Mihrab Mariam.[7] The entrance to the gate is impressively decorated. There has the single opening of a semicircular arch with a distinctive 45-degree chamfer and segmental inner arch at the part of the gate that has reached the present time, also the masonry of the wall shows that there are two gates because 1.20 meters of the gate wall reaches to the west side.[8] According to Ratrout, the Early Muslim architecture of Bab al-Asbāt and its dimensions coincide with those of Bab al-Hashmi. Bab al-Asbāt is 2.81 meters in the width of the doorway, 3.30 meters in the width of the inner threshold of the doorway, and 4.30 meters in height of its arch.[9] Due to its level with the ground, this gate is the only gate through which ambulances can enter the mosque in case of emergency.[10]

Gate of Remission (Bab al-Hitta)[edit]

The Gate of Remission (Arabic: باب الحطه Bāb al-Ḥiṭṭa), where 'remission' means 'forgiveness', is located on the north side. It is one of the oldest gates of the Al-Aqsa compound, and is the main entrance for visitors entering from the northern side of the city of Jerusalem (al-Quds), including the neighborhood of Bab Huta.

Gate of Darkness (Bab al-Atim)[edit]

King Faisal's Gate (Gate of Darkness)

The Gate of Darkness (Arabic: باب العتم Bāb al-ʿAtim or -ʿAtam) is one of the three gates located on the north side. It was called "Gate of al-Dawadariya" (باب الدوادرية), after a nearby school. It is now also known as King Faisal's Gate (باب الملك فيصل). The gate is four meters tall, with an arched roof. At least a couple renovations are known, once circa 1213, during the reign of Ayyubid King al-Mu'azzam Isa, and then circa 1930 by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.[11] It is one of the three gates on the north. The gate is also known as the "Gate of Honor of the Prophets" (باب شرف الانبیاء).[11]

Gate of the Bani Ghānim (Bab al-Ghawanima)[edit]

The Gate of the Bani Ghānim (Arabic: باب الغوانمه Bāb al-Ghawānima) is located on the north-western corner. It was called the al-Khalil gate (باب الخلیل).[12]

Gate of the Seraglio or Palace (Bab as-Sarai; closed)[edit]

A twelfth gate still open during Ottoman rule is now closed to the public: Bab as-Sarai (Gate of the Seraglio, or of the Palace); a small gate to the former residence of the Pasha of Jerusalem; in the northern part of the western wall, between the Bani Ghānim and Council Gates.

Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis)[edit]

The Council Gate (باب المجلس Bāb al-Majlis), also known as the Inspector's Gate (Bāb an-Nāẓir or Nadhir), is located on the northern side of the western Temple Mount wall. It was called Bāb al-Mīkāʾīl (باب المیکائیل) and Bāb al-Ḥabs (باب الحبس).

Iron Gate (Bab al-Hadid)[edit]

Little Western Wall near the Iron Gate

The Iron Gate (باب الحديد Bāb al-Ḥadīd, Hebrew: Shaar Barzel) is located on the western side, at the end of Bab al-Hadid Street, being within the Muslim Quarter, and where, before entering, one gains access to an exposed and contiguous section of the ancient wall of the Temple Mount, known locally as the Little Western Wall.[13]

Cotton Merchants' Gate (Bab al-Qattanin)[edit]

Dome of the Rock viewed through Cotton Merchants' Gate

The Cotton Merchants' Gate (Arabic: باب القطانين Bāb al-Qaṭṭānīn Hebrew: שער מוכרי הכותנה) leads onto the Temple Mount. It was built by the ruler of Damascus, Tankiz, during the reign of Mamluk Sultan ibn Qalawun, as marked by an inscription over the door.[14] Since this site is the closest a person can get to the Foundation Stone without setting foot on the mount itself, the gate was a popular place of prayer for Jews during the 19th century.

Ablution Gate (Bab al-Matahara)[edit]

Through the Ablution Gate towards the Old City

The Ablution Gate (Arabic: باب المطهرة Bāb al-Maṭahara or باب المتوضأ Bāb al-Mutawaḍḍaʾ, or Bāb aṭ-Ṭahāra (باب الطهارة) is located on the western flank.

The gate is rectangular in shape and reaches a height of 3.5 m. It was renovated during the reign of the Mamluk Prince Alaa al-Din al-Busairi in the year 666 AH (1266 CE). It is the only gate that does not lead to the streets and alleys of the Old City, but to a private road that leads to al-Mutahara, located 50 meters away from it.

The Waqf (Islamic Endowments) Department in Jerusalem, which is in charge of managing the affairs of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, rebuilt it in the 1980s.

Tranquility Gate (Bab as-Salam)[edit]

The Tranquility Gate (Bāb as-Salām or Bāb as-Sakīna) is the closed, twin gate of the Chain Gate.

Chain Gate (Bab as-Silsila)[edit]

Gate of the Chain

The Chain Gate (Arabic: باب السلسلة, Bāb as-Silsila; Hebrew: Shaar HaShalshelet) is located on the western flank. Though not without dispute, some think that this was the site of the Kipunos (Coponius) Gate, which existed during the Second Temple period.[15]

Magharibah Gate[edit]

The Morocco Gate from within the Mount

The Moors' Gate, also known as Magharibah Gate[16][17] (Arabic: باب المغاربة Bāb al-Maghāriba; Hebrew: Shaar HaMughrabim), is the southernmost gate on the western flank of the compound, built directly over the Herodian-period gate known as the Gate of the Prophet (also known as Barclay's Gate, named for James Turner Barclay). It is believed that the current gate was built during the Ayyubid period and renovated and connected to the western section of the compound during Mamluke rule.[18] The gate was constructed around the time that the Ayyubids endowed the quarter to North Africans and Moors of Andalusia, Malikites, who were living side by side in Jerusalem.[18] The Magharibah, as these communities were called in Arabic, lived in this area until they were dispersed with the quarter’s demolition in 1967 by Israel in order to construct the Western Wall Plaza for the Jews to pray.[18] Some 130 homes were destroyed, displacing the North African inhabitants who came and settled in the area since the time of Saladin.

Over the years, the ground level outside the Magharibah Gate rose by many meters above its threshold and the Gate of the Prophet (Barclay's Gate) was finally walled up in the 10th century. At some stage, a new gate called Bab al-Magharibah was installed in al-Buraq Wall (Western Wall) above the Gate of the Prophet (Barclay's Gate), at the level of the compound esplanade. It was named after the residents of the adjacent neighborhood, who had come to Jerusalem from the Maghreb in the days of Saladin. This gate is open to this day and since 1967 has been the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque accessible to non-Muslims only.[16][17] Muslims have been banned from using this gate since 1967.

Although the keys to the Al-Aqsa compound gates are the property of the Islamic Waqf organization, the keys to the al-Magharibah gate were seized by the Israel in 1967 and continue to remain in their possession until today.[citation needed]

The gate, specifically the excavation of the historic ramp leading up to it, has been a point of contention between Israelis and Arab Muslims.[19] In February 2004, a wall which supported the 800-year-old ramp jutting out from al-Buraq Wall (Western Wall) and leading up to the Maghariba Gate, partially collapsed. Israeli authorities believed a recent earthquake and snowfall may have been responsible, while Hamas and Muslim officials blamed the collapse on Israelis working in the area.[20][21] The Maghariba Gate is the only access for non-Muslims to enter the site, meaning its closure will prevent both Jews and tourists from visiting until a replacement structure is built. The ramp leads from the plaza by the Western Wall up to the adjoining compound, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It is known that Israel has been carrying out archaeological excavations in an area outside the compound, inviting the charge that they are trying to destabilise the mosque, Islam's third holiest site.[20] In 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) built a temporary wooden pedestrian bridge to the Maghariba Gate. No agreement could be reached over a more permanent structure.

The damaged ramp, situated beneath the bridge and not connected to it, consists of an accumulation of archaeological layers which have been excavated by the IAA, who removed surface material and made visible several ruined structures. This was done in contravention to the action plan initially submitted by the IAA to the UNESCO.

In 2013, an archaeological excavation was conducted at the Maghariba Gate by Hayim-Her Barbe, Roie Greenvald, and Yevgeni Kagan, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).[22]

Firas Dibs, Press Spokesperson for the Jerusalem Islamic Foundations Administration, stated that the Israeli police attacked the Harem-i Sharif community.[23]

Dibs pointed out that there was a dispute and friction between Palestinian youth and Israeli police in front of the Al-Maqariba (Moroccans) Gate in the south west of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and emphasized that the police intervened with sound bombs and rubber bullets.[23]

On 24 May 2021, the Temple Mount complex was reopened to Jews for the first time in 20 days after Muslim unrest.[24]

Sealed gates[edit]

The wall surrounding the Temple Mount contains six sealed gates.

Golden Gate[edit]

The Golden Gate from within the Mount

The Golden Gate (Arabic: باب الرحمة, romanizedBāb al-Raḥma, lit.'Mercy Gate'; Hebrew: Sha'ar Harachamim, "Gate of Mercy"), located on the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, was probably built in the 520s CE, as part of Justinian I's building program in Jerusalem, on top of the ruins of an earlier gate in the wall. An alternate theory holds that it was built in the later part of the 7th century by Byzantine artisans employed by the Umayyad khalifs. It has two vaulted halls which lead to the Door of Mercy, Bab al-Rahma, and the Door of Repentance, Bab al-Taubah. Closed by the Muslims in 810, reopened in 1102 by the Crusaders, it was walled up by Saladin after regaining Jerusalem in 1187. Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt it together with the city walls, but walled it up in 1541, and it has stayed that way until today.[25] The 1st-century historian, Josephus, who mentions the "eastern gate" in his Antiquities, makes note of the fact that this gate was considered within the far northeastern extremity of the inner sacred court.[26] According to the Mishnah, there was formerly a causeway which led out of the Temple Mount eastward over the Kidron Valley, extending as far as the Mount of Olives.[27] Rabbi Eliezer, dissenting, says that it was not a causeway, but rather marble pillars over which cedar boards had been laid, used by the High Priest and his entourage.[28] This gate was not used by the masses to enter the Temple Mount, but reserved only for the High Priest and all those that aided him when taking out the Red Heifer or the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement.

Dutch archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer, who explored the gate in the 1970s, reached the conclusion that the two monolithic massive gateposts seen on the inside of the gate belong to an old structure of the gate, thought to be the Shushan Gate (mentioned in Mishnah Middot 1:3 as being the only gate in the Eastern Wall), and that it dates from the First Temple period.[29]

During the Ottoman-Turk era, the inner recess (vestibule) built within the western side of the Golden Gate was used for brick burning, which bricks were then used to renovate buildings and structures in the Haram esh-Sharif (Temple Mount enclosure).[30] A small mosque was built near the Golden Gate to cater to the brick burners, but which was later destroyed, along with part of the Gate's wall, by order of the Sultan in the 19th-century in order to make room for renovations.[30] A new wall and two new arches were added to the Gate's western interior. The gate house, which is accessed from the Temple Mount by descending a wide flight of stairs leading into it, and where the current ground floor is built in the shape of a rectangle measuring 24 metres (79 ft) × 17 metres (56 ft) (exterior wall measurements), is surrounded by walls, the length of which space is divided by a row of columns forming two equal divisions. At the ground level can be seen the top of an ancient arch (the lower stones still buried underground), the existence of which leads to the conclusion that the original ground level was much lower than what it is today.[30]

Warren's Gate[edit]

Hittah Gate/Barclay's Gate[edit]

Al-Buraq Mosque drawn by Barclay, c. 1851-1854

Barclay's Gate lies within the Al-Buraq Mosque,[31] under the Moroccans' Gate (Moors' Gate) and is one of the four Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa original gates on its western side. Its Arabic name is Bāb an-Nabi, "Gate of the Prophet [Muhammad]"[32] - not to be confused with the Triple Gate, which has the same Arabic name. It is named after James Turner Barclay, a 19th-century Christian missionary who discovered the main structure of the gate buried underground within the Al-Aqsa compound in 1852.[31][33] Several researchers identified it as one of the Second Temple period gates, possibly the Coponius Gate, which is mentioned in Jewish and Christian sources of the period. The gate was blocked with stones at the end of the 10th century and the internal gate room was transformed into a mosque dedicated to Buraq. Today the room is closed and entrance to it is prohibited without the approval of the Waqf.[34]

After the Six-Day War, the Israel Religious Affairs Ministry and Benjamin Mazar, who was at the time conducting the dig outside the southern wall of the Temple Mount, planned to uncover this gate, but they were prevented from doing so by both Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.[35]

Huldah Gates[edit]

The Triple Gate

The Huldah Gates comprise two sets of bricked-up gates in the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The fact that the original entrance gateways still exist reflects an ancient promise cited in a work of rabbinic literature, Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah: "The Kohen Gate and the Huldah Gate were never destroyed and God will renew them".[dubious ] The 1st-century historian, Josephus, mentions these gates in his Antiquities: "...the fourth front of the temple [mount], which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle."[36]

The Double Gate/ The Prophets Gate/ Bab Al Nabi The Prophets Gate or the Double Gate is one of the permanently closed gates along the Southern wall of Al Aqsa Compound. The Gate was used by the Umayyad Caliphs when they would visit Al Aqsa Mosque from their palaces to the south of the compound.

This gate is located around 100 metres from the South Western corner of the Compound. According to Khusru, Bab al Nabi was named as such because it was believed to be the place that the Prophet Muhammed entered Al Aqsa on the night of Isra and Miraj. Since the 19th Century according to Ratrout, the name “Double Gate” was given due to the two rectangular doorways which opened up into the long tunnel leading to the “Ancient Mosque” or “Al Aqsa Qadeem”. The Gateway enters into a long tunnel which measures more than 77 metres towards the north from the Southern wall. On the side of the doorways, above the arch there are floral engravings which according to Ben-Dov 1985, p138 is an “arch in the style of the Muslim Period”

According to Ratrout, p256,[37] Bab Al Nabi leads to a square domed vestibule which then leads to a flight of stairs leading to a double passage tunnel up to the level of the compound. The tunnel according to Ratrout during the early Islamic Period was much shorter but was extended to the north by the Abbasid Caliphs Al Mansur and Al Mahdi in 154-163 AH/ 771-780 AD [Hamilton, 1949, p63]

Triple Gate[edit]

The set on the right is a triple-arched gate, known as the Triple Gate - not to be confused with Barclay's Gate, which has the same Arabic name. Each of the gates once led into a passageway stretching underneath the esplanade of the Mount, and then to steps leading up to the esplanade itself.

Single Gate[edit]

The Single Gate is located along the southern wall. It once led to the underground area of the Temple Mount known as Solomon's Stables.

Gate of the Funerals, or of the Burāq[edit]

Bāb al-Janā’iz (باب الجنائز), or Bāb al-Burāq (باب البراق) (Gate of the Funerals/of the Burāq) is a hardly noticeable postern, or maybe an improvised gate, once opening into the eastern wall a short distance south of the Golden Gate.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elaine McArdle, "How to visit Temple Mount as a tourist: Old City, Jerusalem, Israel," The Whole World is a Playground, 1 January 2015
  2. ^ "GATES".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Ugurluel, Talha (2020). Arzin Kapisi Kudus. Timas Tarih. p. 33. ISBN 978-605-08-2425-4.
  4. ^ Strange, Guy Le (1890). Palestine Under the Moslem: A description of Syria and Holy Land. OCOMMITTEE F THE PALESTINE EXPLORATION FUND. p. 185.
  5. ^ Yilmaz, Hayrunisa (22 December 2019). "Kudüs'teki Memlûk Türk Devleti Armaları ('Renk'ler)". Belleten. 83 (298): 917.
  6. ^ "4 May 2020".
  7. ^ AL-RATROUT, HAITHEM FATHI (2004). PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT OF Al-AQSA MOSQUE, in: The Architectural Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamic Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period. Al-Maktum Institute Academic Press. p. 307.
  8. ^ AL-RATROUT, HAITHEM FATHI (2004). PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT OF Al-AQSA MOSQUE, in: The Architectural Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamic Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period: Sacred Architecture in the Shape of "The Holy.". Al-Maktum Institute Academic Press. p. 307.
  9. ^ AL-RATROUT, HAITHEM FATHI (2004). PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT OF Al-AQSA MOSQUE, in: The Architectural Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamic Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period: Sacred Architecture in the Shape of "The Holy.". Al-Maktum Institute Academic Press. p. 314.
  10. ^ ""باب الأسباط فی القدس.. تاریخ من المقاومة الفلسطینیة ضد الاحتلال "".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ a b "Gate of Darkness". Madain Project. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Bab Ghawanimah".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Nine unknown sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, Oren Cahanovitc: The Small Wailing Wall
  14. ^ Eliyahu Wager (1988). Illustrated guide to Jerusalem. Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Publishing viewed through the Cotton Merchants' Gate]]House. p. 35.
  15. ^ Drory, Joseph [in Hebrew]; Sapir, Baruch (1980). "Chain Gate (Sha'ar ha-shalshelet)". In Chaim Rubenstein (ed.). Israel Guide - Jerusalem (A useful encyclopedia for the knowledge of the country) (in Hebrew). Vol. 10. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, in affiliation with the Israel Ministry of Defence. pp. 71–72. OCLC 745203905.
  16. ^ a b "Tourism Min. plan to widen Jewish access to Temple Mount angers Palestinians". Haaretz. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Israel issues tender for new settlement units". Al Jazeera. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  18. ^ a b c al-Jubeh, Nazmi (2018). "Bab al-Magharibah Joah's Nail in the Haram al-Sharif" (PDF). Jerusalem Quarterly File: 17–24 – via Institute for Palestine Studies.
  19. ^ Marshall J. Breger; Yitzhak Reiter; Leonard Hammer (19 June 2013). Sacred Space in Israel and Palestine: Religion and Politics. Routledge. pp. 251, 266. ISBN 978-1-136-49034-7.
  20. ^ a b BBC NEWS. Warning over Jerusalem holy site
  21. ^ Jerusalem wall collapse sparks Jewish-Muslim row
  22. ^ Israel Antiquities Authority, Excavators and Excavations Permit for Year 2013, Survey Permit # A-6697
  23. ^ a b "İsrail'in Mescid-i Aksa ve Filistinlilere saldırıları: 9'u çocuk 21 ölü, yüzlerce yaralı". euronews. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "Jerusalem: Temple Mount reopens to Jews after 20 days". Indiafaith. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Dr. J. Randall Price, Rose Guide To The Temple. Rose Publishing 2013, p. 135, ISBN 9781596364684 [1]
  26. ^ Josephus, Antiquities 15.424
  27. ^ Mishnah (Parah 3:6; Middot 1:3)
  28. ^ Tosefta Parah 3:7
  29. ^ Ritmeyer, L. (11 March 2019). "The Golden Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - The interior of the Golden Gate in the 1970's". History, Image Library, Jerusalem, News, Temple Mount. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  30. ^ a b c Schiller, Eli, ed. (1989). The Temple Mount and its Sites (הר הבית ואתריו) (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Ariel. pp. 98–108 (The Golden Gate). OCLC 741174009. (Reproduced from Ariel: A Journal for the Knowledge of the Land of Israel, volumes 64-65)
  31. ^ a b Barclay, J.T. (1857). The City of the Great King: Or, Jerusalem as it Was, as it Is, and as it is to be. J. Challen. p. 489. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  32. ^ Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems p. 189
  33. ^ Josephus, Antiquities (xv, 410 [15.11.5]), Loeb Classical Library, ed. H.St.J. Thackeray, Heinemann: London 1926
  34. ^ Baruch, Yuval. "The Mughrabi Gate Access - The Real Story". Israel Antiquities Authority. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  35. ^ Shragai, Nadav (12 February 2007). "The gate of the Jews". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  36. ^ Josephus, Antiquities 15.410
  38. ^ Charles Wilson (1879). Quarterly Statement for 1879. London: Palestine Exploration Fund. Retrieved 24 September 2015. Over the doorway of the postern there is a sort of lintel, but there are no regular jambs, and the whole has more the appearance of a hole broken through the masonry and afterwards roughly filled up than that of a postern in a city wall; still it probably marks the site of Mejr-ed-Din's Gate of Burak.

External links[edit]