New gate for old city

March 6, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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11 million NIS has been invested in renovating the “New Gate” of the Old City of Jerusalem, which will now become a major entrance gate for tourists and visitors to the Old City.

Photo: Alon Boskila

Its connecting street will become a colourful pedestrian mall, featuring vibrant local commerce and tourism. The Jerusalem Development Authority, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the National Insurance Institute all participated in the investment for the upgrade to the Gate.

The “New Gate” and the adjacent street are a major tourist attraction for all people of the Old City. Opened originally in 1889, the “New Gate” is the closest of the seven gates of the Old City to the Christian Quarter, which includes Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Morristan Compound, and many additional historical sites. In addition to the residents and the merchants, many tourists and visitors come to the area, who come to shop in the colourful markets and the well-known commercial areas, and to stay at the hotels and hostels.

However, over the years, the infrastructure surrounding the “New Gate” deteriorated, commerce did not meet the tourists’ needs, and many visitors chose to use other entrances to the Old City. The rehabilitation and renovation work provides an additional access route to the Old City, improving traffic in the area and easing the flow of tourists.

The “New Gate” compound project is part of a multi-year plan for the development of the Old City, which includes the development of infrastructure, improving accessibility, and easing congestion.

As part of the project, extensive development, restoration and preservation work was carried out: the commercial facades of the shops and cafes were renovated, and new lighting was put in place to illuminate the area. Traffic was regulated, and public space was designed for the pedestrian benefit. In addition, the sewage, water, lighting and electricity infrastructures have been rehabilitated, streets have been re-paved, space has been made accessible for people with disabilities, and a parking lot has been opened for local residents and public use.

The businesses on the street are diverse. Among them are the “Johnny’s Bar” – among the only bars in the Old City, the Armenian ceramics shop, “George Sandroni,” and “Bynet El Balad,” a culinary enterprise to empower the residents of the Old City.

Minister Zeev Elkin: “We at the Jerusalem Ministry of Heritage continue to promote a national project of transforming the Old City and turning it into a tourist attraction of the State of Israel to all who visit. The renovated New Gate will now become one of the main entrances to the Old City, and will be a great contribution to the promotion of tourism and commerce in the Old City.”

Minister of Tourism, MK Yariv Levin said: “The New Gate pedestrian mall is a project with important touristic significance, which will dramatically improve the movement of tourists in the area and provide them with a wonderful cultural experience. Tourism to Israel in general and to Jerusalem in particular is at an all-time high and we continue to improve the tourist experience and the many possibilities he has to enjoy all that Israel has to offer, and I am convinced that the new project will be a magnet for many tourists and visitors and I welcome all those involved.”

Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion addd: “I welcome the opening of the New Gate pedestrian mall. This is another section of the Old City that was developed and re-imagined for the benefit of visitors and residents of the area. The Jerusalem Municipality has put accessibility in the Old City at the top of its priorities, and we will continue to make many more sites in the capital accessible to achieve this goal. The refurbished New Gate area will quickly become a vibrant, attractive, draw for tourists.”

Eyal Haimovsky, Director General of the Jerusalem Development Authority commented: “The New Gate pedestrian mall program is one of the main physical projects in the Old City Basin. We saw great importance in upgrading the public space and traffic arteries in the area, and the development plans required great sensitivity and adaptation to the various needs. Jerusalem is a pioneer in making the in accessibility to people with disabilities, a complex process in ancient sites such as the Old City of Jerusalem. Alongside the emphasis on accessibility, we focused on visual and infrastructural development.”

“This is an additional layer of social possibilities for children and people with disabilities from all walks of life in the by the National Insurance Institute. They now have opportunities to experience tourism, history and commerce like any other person in the State of Israel. The New Gate is also a symbolic gateway of social equality, a pioneering breakthrough in the world of accessibility in historical sites in Israel and abroad, and we are proud to be partners in it”, said Attorney Yitzhak Sabato, director of the National Insurance Institute.

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