The Ramparts Tour is an off-the-beaten-track tour that you can do in the middle of Jerusalem.
The reason you don’t find many people doing it is that it involves a lot of stairs. Also, groups of tourists don’t tend to be taken up there as the guides don’t have many spots from which to address the group easily.
For individuals it’s the perfect way to see the city from a different angle, taking in both the holy sites and the everyday lives of the inhabitants of the Old City.
The Ramparts Tour starts at Jaffa Gate and is divided into two parts: the northern walk and the southern walk. You can choose to walk one of them or do both.
The southern walk starts at Jaffa Gate, encircles the Tower of David, and goes around the Armenian quarter with views towards West Jerusalem.
At Zion Gate, you can walk down and visit the sites on Mount Zion, but if you do choose to walk down, be aware that you won’t be able to get back up onto the rampart again (although you can walk along the outside of the walls until you reach the Dung Gate).
The path continues next to the Jewish quarter and ends next to the Dung Gate and the Western Wall.
This walk is easier and shorter than the northern walk. At the end of this walk, you can continue to my tour of the City of David or walk to the Western Wall. On my self-guided tour, I lead you around Temple Mount.
We head out from the Dung Gate, enter a Muslim cemetery, and see the Golden Gate, which is sealed (and also known as the Gate of Mercy). We continue to the Lion’s Gate. From there you can walk to the Old City, or Gethsemane, or do the northern walk from the Lion’s Gate to Jaffa Gate.
The northern walk starts at Jaffa Gate, encircles the Christian and Muslim quarters and finishes next to the Lion’s Gate. On my self-guided tour, I lead you the other way – from the Lion’s Gate to Jaffa Gate.
If you decide to do the tour as I propose, you need to buy a ticket for the northern walk and use this ticket to open the gate at the Lion’s gate and walk up to the rampart.
There is no member of staff at the gate and you sometimes need to insert your ticket a few times before the gate actually opens.
As you walk around the Muslim quarter, you will see here more than anywhere else how people actually live in the Old City.
You can see schools, the football field, the women hanging out their laundry. At Damascus Gate you can get down from the ramparts and walk to the Garden Tomb, which is the Protestant site marking the burial of Jesus.
There are more sites in the area surrounding Damascus Gate: the small Roman Square Museum, which is located under a modern gate, and Zedekiah’s Cave. Both of these sites are currently closed. Once they are open again, I will update this post and tour accordingly.
The Damascus Gate area is the only place where you can stop for something to eat during this tour. I like to recommend the Ikarmawi hummus joint.
From Damascus Gate you can head back up to the ramparts and walk around the Christian quarter back to Jaffa Gate. If you encounter problems with your tickets, you could also walk outside the walls. It is a nice walk with fewer stairs to navigate.