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Monday, December 16, 2013

The Jerusalem National Park Around the Old City Walls©

Even in faraway Australia, they dream of being in Jerusalem while we have the zechus to be here. In TasmaniaAustralia, 144 km northwest of Hobart, located in the Tasmanian Central Highlands is The Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Forming part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the park takes its name from the geological features in the park which are thought to resemble the walls of the holy city of Jerusalem.

The region is an alpine wilderness dominated by dolerite peaks, highland tarns, and glittering lakes surrounded by alpine vegetation. Many places and features within the park use Biblical references for names, such as Zion Hill, Lake Salome, Mt Jerusalem Solomon’s Jewels, Damascus Gate, the Pool of Bethesda, and King David’s Peak.
Back to Eretz Yisrael and the real thing, no tour in Israel is complete without a visit to Jerusalem's Old City walls. The same walls you can see today around Jerusalem's Old City were built by the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during the years 1536-1541. The length of these walls is around 3.8 km.

After the miraculous Six Day War and the reunification of the city, one of the first things they did was to clear away the ramshackle housing leaning against the walls of the Old City. By doing this, they created a greenbelt around them, giving the ancient city a biblical appearance on an open plain.

The green belt preservation had been the suggestion of the American architect Louis Kahn, who advised then Mayor Teddy Kollek to keep the roads around the Old City as far away from the walls as possible. The national park was originally designed to surround the Old City from all sides, to separate between the Old City, and at the same time preventing construction near the walls.

Development of the project included a series of preliminary archeological surveys and excavations. Many of the finds were incorporated into the landscaped walkway, which includes the preserved and sign-posted elements of earlier walls and buildings from all periods of the city's history. The ring of open spaces surrounding the Old City walls includes historic sites, an important urban drainage system, and a variety of natural infrastructure such as orchards, ancient trees, and natural habitats for reptiles, insects, birds, and small mammals.

The area of the national park around the walls of the Old City also includes the gates to the Old City of Jerusalem: Shaar Yaffo, HaShaar HaChadash (New Gate), Shaar Shechem, Shaar HaPrachim, Shaar HaArayot, Shaar HaRachamim, Shaar HaAshpot and Shaar Tzion (Zion Gate).

Approaching the Old City from Jaffa Road, the park has an entrance on each of the three streets which encircle it. This section of the park contains a modern mosaic map of Jerusalem and a board displaying photographs and statistics relative to the different communities in Jerusalem from 1840 to 1977.

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