Leen Ritmeyer

The Double Gate: The main entrance to the Temple Mount at the time of Herod is marked today by half of an arch (upper left) built over the Double Gate during the Omayyad period (633–750 A.D.). The wall extending perpendicularly from the gate at the left of the photo is part of an entrance tower erected by Crusaders. The Crusaders walled up the eastern opening of the 20-foot-high Double Gate and built their entrance tower in a zigzag shape to protect the Double Gate’s western opening, which they used (see plan).

Thirty steps—partially original and partially restored—led up to the Double Gate. Their heights are roughly equal, between 7 and 10 inches. However, their depths alternate—12 inches, then 35 inches, then 12 inches, and so on. In this way, the Temple Mount architect created an ascent that required each worshipper to approach the Temple slowly and with some deliberation. At the top of the steps, huge Herodian ashlars form the first course of stones in the southern wall east—to the right—of the Double Gate. The smaller stones above date from rebuilding work in the Omayyad period.