The Old City has eight open gates, if you count the small Tanner’s Gate. Jaffa Gate is a main entrance to the City from the west. It enters at the juncture of the Armenian and Christian Quarters.
Jaffa Gate is named for Jaffa Road, a primary route from Jaffa Port, also known as Joppa. If that name sounds familiar, you’ve heard of it in the story of Jonah, and also the account of Peter’s vision. The harbor of Jaffa is one of the oldest harbors in the world.
Jaffa Gate was built in 1538 during the Ottaman Period, when most of the Old City walls were built. It is in the shape of a medieval tower gate. The road does a right angle turn inside the tower. This made it more defensible against an invading army.
Today, the traffic through the Gate is foot traffic. Vehicles use the road through the wall opening directly to the south of the gate. The breach in the wall was made in 1898 to allow German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II to enter the city as a conqueror.
In 1917, British general Edmund Allenby entered the Old City on foot through the Gate. He wanted to show respect, and avoid any comparison with Kaiser’s pompous entrance.