Jaffa Gate, one of four main entrances to the Old City, was built by Jerusalem’s Ottoman rulers and inaugurated in 1538. It is the most common entrance for tourists entering the walled Old City — home to key holy sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, as well as a popular outdoor marketplace.
The restoration was part of a $4 million project launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority in 2007 to spruce up all two and a half miles (four kilometers) of the Old City’s walls.
The authority replaced broken stones, reattached an elaborate inscription above the gate and cleaned the facade with lye. Because Jaffa Gate provides one of the few entrances for vehicles, the stones had a decades-old coating of car exhaust residue, said Yoram Saad, who headed the renovation.
The portal stands at a right angle to the western exterior wall of the Old City, made of the same large, 16th-century sand-colored hewn stone blocks. The entrance is about 20 feet (6 meters) high, and the wall rises another 20 feet (6 meters) above it.
The renovation project has proven challenging because of the difficulty in restoring ancient stones and the project’s political and religious overtones.