Pullan, W. - ICOMOS Global Case Study Project on Reconstruction: Jerusalem: Damascus Gate

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ICOMOS Global Case Study Project on Reconstruction

December 2017

In the context of the ICOMOS Guidance on Post Trauma Recovery and Reconstruction for World Heritage Cultural Properties document, this document is a draft framework for use as a tool for the ICOMOS Global Case Study Project on Reconstruction. Please note that this draft document is confidential and is not to be shared or distributed. Introduction At the Colloquium on Post-trauma Reconstruction held in Paris in March 2016, several of the working groups tasked with examining the main themes identified the difficulty of establishing a body of reflective experience. Participants observed a tendency for case studies to be particular in their focus and, in varying degrees, to reflect the approach or particular expertise of their author(s). As a result, it was deemed difficult to relate and compare the experiences in each case to that of others and to therefore draw robust conclusions that might have wider application to other degraded or damaged sites. In response to this difficulty identified during the Colloquium the ICOMOS project aims to develop an appropriate framework for case studies of damaged heritage sites that allows for comparison and for wider, shared learning. While the primary focus in the project has been on affected World heritage sites, it is expected that the framework might have broader application.

Participating experts are asked to compose their individual case study by addressing the six main headings below, with space for additional comments at the end. Each heading includes a set of questions to help develop your case study. As you write your case, please make a note any suggestions or recommendations for improving the framework, noting in particular any missing elements.

Table of Contents: 1. Details of the Expert(s) Completing this Report 2. Documenting the Status of the Heritage Resource and its Context Before the Event 2.1 Description, Designation and Recognition 2.2 History and Context 3. Documenting the Nature of the Traumatic Event(s) 4. Documenting Post-Event Appraisals 5. Documenting Actions, Timeframes, Resources and Costs 6. Documenting the Outcomes and Effects 7. Additional Comments

Case Study in Jerusalem: Damascus Gate and adjacent areas in the Old City, East and West Jerusalem Wendy Pullan, University of Cambridge Revised March 2018 Executive Summary Damascus Gate is the largest gate in the northern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is Roman in origin, with some archaeological remains; the present structure was rebuilt in the sixteenth century by Suleiman the Magnificent and is a good example of Ottoman military architecture. Today the gate occupies an important but liminal position in the city: it marks the transition between the historic and modern city, in and outside of the walled city. When Jerusalem was a divided city between 1948 and 1967, the international border between Israeli West Jerusalem and Jordanian East Jerusalem passed just to the west of the gate. Since then Damascus Gate has marked the boundary area between Israeli and Palestinian cities. The structure of the limestone gate is in reasonably good condition; however the area around it, both inside and outside the wall, is heavily contested and lacks urban continuity. Various Israeli interventions include: renovations inside the Old City, an amphitheatre just outside the gate, a park, a major inner city motor way and a transportation hub that includes a bus station and a light railway station. Large stretches of semi-derelict land make it unfit for pedestrian activity and long periods of conflict have rendered much of the surrounding area unattractive. The Palestinian presence is evident in markets and commercial life inside and outside of the gate, but this is also subject to the political climate. The Israeli presence is mostly military; three new, permanent checkpoints have recently been installed. Both peoples traverse the area on their way to prayers in the Old City. Both peoples traverse the area on their way to prayers in the Old City. Attempts to develop the area for tourists have been sporadic despite the significance of the gate. Damascus Gate is not a restored heritage site in a post trauma phase; in fact, like the whole city of Jerusalem, it remains part of a long conflict for which there is no foreseeable end. The gate is an important landmark for both Palestinians and Israelis, and is a significant example of a secular site in this city of three major monotheistic religions. The area is defined by its social, political and economic conditions as well as the landmark qualities of the gate itself; moreover, it is an excellent example of how heritage issues extend well beyond the physical fabric of the historical resource and are ultimately contextual in nature.


Details of the Expert(s) Completing this Report

Please provide a brief biography for each of the experts completing this report. Biographies should include name, professional affiliations, qualifications, and a description of individual roles and responsibilities in relation to the heritage resource.

Professor Wendy Pullan, Director, Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge (www.urbanconflicts.arct.cam.ac.uk).


No formal responsibility for the heritage resource. Long term experience of research on Jerusalem and on examples of severe ethno-national and religious conflict in urban settings; Principal Investigator for ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’; co-editor: Locating Urban Conflicts (Palgrave 2013); co-author: The Struggle for Jerusalem’s Holy Places (Routledge 2013).

2. Documenting the Status of the Heritage Resource and its Context Before the Event With reference to the questions and prompts below, provide a description of the resource and its context before the event. In doing so, *please cite the sources of the relevant information you provide, wherever applicable. Sources may include, for example, direct examination or survey of the resource, published or archival material, website information, graphic or photographic resources, iconographic sources, or oral sources.


Description, Designation and Recognition

A. General Description 

Describe the location and setting of the heritage resource.

Damascus Gate is the largest of three gates in the north side of the city wall of Jerusalem. Built by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century, it stands on Roman remains and has marked the northern entrance to Jerusalem for over two milennia. Its name denotes the road to Damascus; in Hebrew it is Sha’ar Shechem (Nablus Gate, a city in northern Palestine) and in Arabic it is Bab al-Amud (Gate of the Column, see explanation below, 2.1.D). The name ‘Damascus Gate’ will be used here. The portal marks the transition between Old City and New City and from 1948 until 1967 it stood on the international border between Israel and Jordan, just inside the eastern, Jordanian sector. To the north, the gate faces an area destroyed in the 1948 war that became a no-man’s land, and, extending northward, in various ways still divides the city. Near Damascus Gate, the land is triangular in shape, bounded by Ha-Ayin Het Street, Ambiah (Haneviim) Street, and Sultan Suleiman (becoming Ha-Tsanhanim) Street. Here it will be referred to as the ‘triangle’; sometimes it is known as the ’seam’. The historical resource is Damascus Gate itself, but the larger Damascus Gate area is significant including the gate and city wall, the immediate areas inside and outside the gate, the triangle and interface areas between East and West Jerusalem. As well as being an important part of Jerusalem’s history for many centuries, it is today a frontier land in the middle of the city, between Israel and Palestine.

What does the resource consist of? Please carefully consider the interface between tangible and intangible attributes of the heritage resource.

The site is a mix of historic and contemporary building fabric and infrastructure. The two-towered Ottoman gate consists of several inner chambers and a ramparts; below grade is the excavated arched east entrance of the Roman gate. There are a number of small archaeological sites throughout the area. The inner and outer gateway squares are used primarily as markets. The outer square was reconstructed as an amphitheatre and just to the west of it is a post-1967 park. The triangle just north of the gate has become a transportation hub with a stop on the Israeli Light Rail system and Palestinian bus station. The north-south, six-lane Road 1 runs through the triangle and descends into a tunnel for parts of the route. Social, political and economic factors are extremely important. The Damascus Gate area is where Palestinian civilians encounter Israeli 3

soldiers and police; it is the gate traditionally used by Muslims and Jews to enter the Old City for prayers; and the gate is a key point for tourism. The area is of economic importance for the Palestinians and for the functioning of the historic Old City, operating as a transfer point for goods and as an important market area. Perhaps most importantly, in its history and its present conflicted political situation the gate area acts as a major landmark, point of contention and possible place of meeting inside Jerusalem. See attached images. 

Does an official or broadly accepted description of the resource exist? And if so, what is it?

It is part of the WHL designation for the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. This is contested by Israel.

B. Form, Function, and Creation 

Describe the type, layout and morphology of both the resource and the broader context in which it is located.

Damascus Gate is typical of Ottoman military architecture. The structure has a single entrance with towers on either side; there is a rampart and crenellations. Passage through the gate (for pedestrians only) takes a double turn, first left, then right; although originally used for defence, such a passage slows movement and focuses attention, and the inner spaces are now used commercially. The ground level of the city has risen over the centuries and the gate became partially buried. The outer square was rebuilt after 1967 by Israel as an open air amphitheatre creating a link downward to deal with the level change. Israel also built Mishol Ha-pninim Garden (referred to as the Palm Tree Park) just to the west of the amphitheatre. The inner square is a market that connects southward into the markets of the Muslim Quarter and outward to a New City wholesale market and shops. See drawings and photos.

For what purpose(s) was the resource originally created? What other purposes did it serve during its existence? How is it presently used? Have changes of use determined modifications to the heritage resource? If so, please describe.

 The resource is a city gate and remains so today. As a major city gate it attracts many civic activities. In modern times, because it stands where the city was divided it has become politically charged, as described above. The surrounding areas are mixed use: residential, commercial, transport, tourism. 

Describe the materials, building techniques and structural solutions used in the creation of the resource and in subsequent changes and transformations that the heritage resource has undergone.

Damascus Gate is built of the local limestone – white-gold-pink in colour and striated with quartz – referred to as Jerusalem stone. Lateral strength was provided by stone columns laid horizontally through the stone fabric. The column ends form decorated roundels on the facade. A number of inscriptions exist in the stone and have been recorded.

Are the materials used in its construction and subsequent transformations still available? If so, describe their availability in terms of accessibility, quantity, sustainability and costs.

The supply of Jerusalem stone is diminishing but still exists. Availability may be affected by political unrest.

What skill set(s) was needed for its creation and subsequent transformations? Do these construction and craft skills exist today? If so, describe the human resources in terms of numbers and availability of practitioners.


The whole city was built of the local Jerusalem limestone. Basic construction techniques for historic stone buildings are still known and practised. There have been modern attempts to train skilled masons in finer and more complex tasks and there are some skilled craftsmen who are still working. Stone masonry is typically a Palestinian craft; conservation policy is mostly in the hands of the Israelis.

C. Official Designation or Inscription In describing the existing heritage designation(s)/inscription(s) of the resource at the international, national and local levels, please consider the questions below: 

What type(s) of designation or inscription has been assigned to the heritage resource?

 Jerusalem’s Old City and its Walls were inscribed on the WHL in 1981 (proposed by Jordan). The site has been on the Endangered List since 1982, with the situation reviewed and reaffirmed in 2015 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/1518; https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/31905445B7240BC88525803400599A D8) 

Does the designation(s)/inscription(s) apply exclusively to the heritage resource or does it apply more generally to the broader context in which the resource is located?

The inscription applies to the Old City wall and the Old City, inside the walled enclosure, in its entirety. The inscription stops at the wall and the exterior New City is not included. I would argue that the area outside of the wall and gate is significant and essential to the life of the gate and its status should not be separate from the area inside of the gate. To designate only one side of the gate is contrary to the function of a gate.

Are the reasons for designation or inscription made explicit? If so, what are they?

Jerusalem is a major holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The inscription includes 220 sites in the Old City. Damascus Gate is a prominent part of the wall; its significance has been well documented archaeologically and architecturally.

Does the designation(s)/inscription(s) imply a hierarchy among the elements/attributes of the heritage resource and the role they played in supporting its cultural significance? If so, describe.

The inscription has been motivated by political as well as cultural concerns.

Does the designation(s)/inscription(s) prescribe, suggest or imply specific conservation or management policies? If so, have these been taken into account during the recovery process?

Yes, the WHL designation continues to be highly politicised. It was made by Jordan, not Israel, and very soon after the site was put on the endangered list. Conservation and management is contested between Palestinian and Israeli authorities.

D. Scholarly Recognition 

Are the attributes, significance or value of the heritage resource described in scholarly literature? If so, provide a summary and cite the sources.

The scholarly and professional literature falls into three broad categories: 1. devoted to the gate’s structure, archaeology and history; 2. investigating the present socio-political situation (including intangible factors of heritage) as a contested landmark in a divided city; 3. planning proposals and documents; these were mostly prepared at various stages by Israeli authorities, but the site has attracted interest by many groups from


Jerusalem and abroad. All three categories attribute value to Damascus Gate and the surrounding area, but in very different ways. 

Was the rationale for the official designation(s)/inscription(s) guided by that scholarly literature? Is the literature explicitly cited in the designation/inscription?

Category 1 of the literature is well recognised and some of it appears to have guided official recognition. Category 2 is primarily analytical, focusing on identity, trauma and contestation, as well as urban and economic factors, and itself is contested. Much of Category 3 is officially recognised by Israel and to some extent by international bodies, especially in the pre-1987 period.

Are there important attributes that are not acknowledged in the scholarly literature? If so, describe.

As noted above, there are three categories of scholarly literature. They do not necessarily connect with each other and sometimes they contradict each other. This has caused a disjuncture and omissions in our understanding of the area.

E. Popular Recognition 

Describe the significance of the heritage resource for both the resident population and wider national and global audiences.

Damascus Gate, as it stands now, is widely recognised by Palestinians and Israelis as an important example of Ottoman architecture and a significant landmark in the city. Its Roman origins are significant for the history of Jerusalem, thus important to both Jews and Arabs and to pilgrims and tourists. Palestinians see it as part of Middle Eastern (as opposed to colonial) heritage that is important today for Ottoman revisionism. As a present day landmark the gate is significant for all residents of contested Jerusalem. On an everyday basis, it is a key urban marker for Jewish and Muslim processional routes. It is significant as a centre for Palestinian markets, trade and social exchange.

Do different communities (or competing groups within a community) attribute different or competing meanings or significances to the resource ? If so, provide a detailed account.

The site is highly contested. Damascus Gate is an important secular landmark in Jerusalem. For Palestinians it is important as part of the Middle Eastern and Turkish history of the city and region. Jewish settlers (ideologically-motivated, fundamentalist and politically radical right wing groups; hereafter referred to as ‘settlers’) claim all of Jerusalem as their holy city and Damascus gate is recognised as a landmark in that configuration. Christian pilgrims are interested in the archaeology as it plays a role in understanding early Christian Jerusalem. Tourists are interested in the gate primarily for its Roman archaeology and connection to early Christian history, but they also enjoy the quality of the Ottoman architecture as part of the urban setting. It is worth noting that all groups regard the gate as an important landmark in Jerusalem, often for conflicting reasons but sometimes for similar reasons. As well, it is notable that in a city significant for three world religions this is a primarily secular site.

Are there conflicting policies or uses with respect to the heritage resource that stem from competing interpretations or valuations of it?

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, the gate has been used as a high-profile site in Israeli planning policy and reconstruction. The Palestinians are not invited to participate in forming policy nor are they willing to cooperate.

Are there social, cultural or ritual practices or uses related to the resource? If so, describe. 6

The gate area is a meeting place for many groups and individuals. Palestinians use it on a daily basis; Israeli civilians are rare. The Israeli army and border police are frequently stationed there depending upon the level of unrest in the city and current political policies. Quasi ritual activities exist as informal processions to prayer in the Old City (al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall), and political demonstrations sometimes take place. Activity at the gate is an excellent gage of the political climate in the city.

Were special ritual practices associated with its original construction/creation or renewal? If so, provide a brief social history of those practices and describe their significance. Also describe the ways in which knowledge of the practice(s) was transmitted between generations and any significant information concerning the control or possession of that knowledge. Are the practices continued today?

Damascus Gate has a long history of ritual or quasi ritual use. Gateway squares were important places for adventus rituals in Roman times; archaeology shows that Damascus Gate was originally a Roman triple arch, formed like a triumphal arch. A column was built in the inner square, probably with a statue of Emperor Hadrian on top; later the Christians replaced the statue with a cross. The inner gateway square and column are clearly visible in the Madaba Map (6th century) and drawn by Adomnan with a cross and the image of a saint (after Arculf 670). Today the name of the gate in Arabic is still Bab al-Amud (Gate of the Column). In Ottoman (1517-1917), British Mandate (1917-48), Jordanian periods (1948-67) it was the major gate to the Old City. It was economically important: caravans stopped there and livestock markets were held nearby. Since 1967 ritual has been mostly unofficial and often contested. The gate area has been a site of civic unrest and demonstration, sometimes violent, and occasionally for peace demonstrations, as in the joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration to make Jerusalem two capitals of two states (11.5.07). Since 1967 a number of individual attacks have taken place there. The gate is one of the main entrances for Muslims walking to prayer at the Haram al-Sharif mid-day on Fridays, and inside the gate, the connection along al-Wad Street remains one of the major informal processional routes. In times of civilian unrest, dissent or violence, the Israeli authorities restrict entrance of men below a certain age (usually 45 or 55); thus the gate becomes a checkpoint, a place of demonstration and sometimes a place of violence. From the late 19th century, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews living in the religious areas of West Jerusalem (eg Mea Shearim) have walked to Sabbath prayers on Fridays at sunset, following Haneviim Street to Damascus Gate and then al-Wad Street to the Western Wall; they return by the same route.

Describe any other intangible dimensions or cultural practices associated with the heritage resource.

Today it is both a place of violence and a place of potential interaction. At times of heavy unrest, Palestinian protest, Israeli response and international media take on a well-rehearsed and recognised choreography.

2.2 History and Context A. History, Ownership and Environment 

Provide dates or time periods for the original construction of the resource and for any changes and modifications that were made to it during its history. Include a chronological history of conservation or restoration interventions in the site.

The present Ottoman structure was built in 1537 by Suleiman the Magnificent. Before that Damascus Gate has a long, complicated and debated history (summarised in: 7

Geva and Bahat 1998) and it represents most of the major periods in Jerusalem’s history. What is referred to as the Roman gate was built by Hadrian in CE135, although this was predated by another northern gate to the city. The Roman structure was excavated during the British Mandate and the eastern arch is visible today below street level. Damascus Gate was clearly a major marker on the northern route into the city; during Roman and Byzantine periods it was connected by road to a freestanding triumphal arch about 400 metres north. The buildings inside the gate are from various periods; the main street alignments are Roman. The buildings outside the gate are mostly 19th century; inside the triangle they were destroyed 1948-67. Major transportation infrastructures (Road 1, Jerusalem Light Rail) are post-1967 Israeli initiatives as are the amphitheatre and park outside the gate. 

Describe the history of (changing) ownership of the resource in relation to its historical development.

The ownership of the gate has been at the discretion of the various victorious powers in the conflicts and conquests of Jerusalem throughout the centuries.

Has the immediate setting/context changed since the original creation of the resource? If so, in what ways?

The setting and context has changed radically since the sixteenth century. Most notably has been the extensive construction of the New City beyond the wall beginning in the mid-nineteenth century; the division of Jerusalem with the international border running next to Damascus Gate; Israeli planning initiatives since 1967. Physically, the gate is now considerably lower than the level of sultan Suleiman Street; physical access was addressed post-1967 by the Israeli-planned amphitheatre. The structure was never used as a theatre and has become a market instead.

Describe the current condition of the heritage resource? What vulnerability(ies) does it presently face? Also describe the conditions and vulnerabilities of the wider context.

The gate is one of the most dominant physical features in the area, despite the fact that it is now lower than street grade. Its visual prominence is partly because of the destruction of the triangle area. The former no-man’s land, or triangle, now has a foursix-lane motorway and tunnel running through it (Road 1) and this further divides East and West Jerusalem. The motorway is paralleled by a light rail system; there is a rail stop and Palestinian bus station just north of the gate. A Palestinian commercial area runs north from the gate on the eastern edge of the motorway. Palestinian East Jerusalem has many markets in this area and the link between Old and New Cities for the transfer of goods – by van and by push-trolley – is effective. The West Israeli side of the triangle is residential and is oriented away from the gate area. The whole area is subject to Israeli army surveillance and checkpoints. There are a number of small archaeological sites in the area. After 1967 Israel constructed two major projects in front of the gate, an amphitheatre and a park with palm-lined paths and water rills; both are shunned by the Palestinians. They have turned the amphitheatre into an informal market; the park has been unused and derelict for many decades (for recent changes, see: Epilogue). See maps and photos.

B. Social and Economic Setting 

Describe the social structure of the society/communities within or in proximity to the heritage resource?

Two residential areas, Musrara West (Israel) and Musrara East (Palestine) lie on either side of the divide; before 1948, both were mostly Muslim Arab. In the 1950s, Jewish


immigrants from Arab countries were housed in the homes vacated by Arabs in Musrara West; today these residents have little to do with the Palestinians or the Damascus Gate area. The commercial district of Palestinian Musrara has existed from the late 19th century. A number of large institutions, mostly Christian, are located in Musrara East. It is possible to speculate that if Jerusalem had developed differently, without heavy conflict and division, the triangle would have been the logical place for the New City centre. 

Have aspects of the social organisation(s) (i.e. at the level of the community or household) been relevant to the reconstruction process (e.g. social hierarchy, language, ethnicity, gender relations, etc.)? If so, describe.

Reconstruction after 1967 has been done by the Israeli authorities. Musrara West has active community groups and Musrara East has a tradition of familial participation, but neither have been particularly involved in the reconstruction. There is very little cross border contact; however there is some interaction based upon work and employment, tourism, trade (some of it illegal, such as drug dealing) as well as occasional shared political demonstrations and contested political protests.

C. Frameworks, Agents and Communication 

What frameworks are in place (e.g. legal, regulatory, governance)?

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has not been recognised by any other government in the world (although the USA under Trump seems to be going in that direction). All of its decisions with respect to East Jerusalem are unilateral. The East Jerusalem Development Company (private management company) in conjunction with the Jerusalem Foundation (non-profit development company) developed the plans for Damascus Gate and the area around it, including the amphitheatre and park. Decisions for Road 1 and the Jerusalem Light Rail were made at national level.

Who are the key agents and stakeholders?

At an official level, the main stakeholders are the Israeli government and (Israeli) Jerusalem Municipality. Although in absentia, the Palestine National Authority could be considered a stakeholder. The original WHL inscription was proposed by the Jordanian Government. The main local stakeholders are residents, merchants, vendors, and other traders and workers in the market. They are nearly all Palestinian. However with a landmark of this significance it is possible to say that all of the residents of Jerusalem have some attachment and could be considered stakeholders.

What formal and informal channels of communication exist between them?

Communication between the Palestinians and the Israeli authorities is minimal; there are some informal links, many of which are not admitted by those involved. Communications vary in quality and quantity depending upon the political climate. Formal encounters between Israeli and Palestinian residents are mostly to do with army activities, especially stop and search.

Is there a shared cultural understanding of the heritage resource among decision makers and those involved in the institutional framework (e.g. staff of offices for heritage protection, urban planning, etc.)? If so, describe that understanding or the variety of perspectives that exist. Are these perspectives documented and are the relevant groups aware of them?


At a general level, there is a sense of the significance of the gate and city wall. However, the wider culture of interaction and conflict is not well understood and often violent. Beyond the political differences, there is little respect for the Palestinian economic and social activities connected to the gate, even though the life of the historic Old City is at least in part dependent upon these relationships. In conservation terms, inside the city wall is considered to be historically and architecturally important but outside not so. Settler activities, including the tunnelling under the Old City, present other complex problems; at present the Israeli government and authorities are largely supportive or turn a blind eye to the settlers.

D. Bibliography of Documentation Provide key bibliographic references and other sources (including, where possible, author(s) name, date, title, place of publication or holding, or URL) that contributed to formulating the significance of the heritage resources. If the existing scholarly literature is abundant, then provide as a minimum the most important references, and especially those that were useful for the recovery process. Your comments as an expert on the availability, quality and contents (including lacunae) of the scholarly literature would be a valuable contribution.

Over the centuries, references to Damascus Gate are frequent, from pilgrim’s and traveller’s accounts (eg. Adomnan, La Citez), to contemporary historians (Mujir al-Din), to archaeological and architectural reports and documentation (Geva and Bahat, Wightman, Auld and Hillenbrand), to socio-political studies (Sennett). More recently there have been studies of its urban spatial qualities in relation to socio-political conditions (Pullan 2006, Pullan et al 2013). Novelists have also focused on Damascus Gate (Zahran), capitalising on its symbolic qualities relating to civic strife and violence, and occasionally to hope for better interaction between different national groups. The gate is often been depicted as a key landmark in Jerusalem.

Selected sources: Adomnan, ‘The Holy Places’ in Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades, ed. J Wilkinson (Jerusalem : Ariel ; Warminster : Aris and Phillips, 1977) 99 Sylvia Auld and Robert Hillenbrand, eds, Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City, 1517-1917, (Al Tajir-World of Islam Trust 2000) Hillel Geva, Dan Bahat, ‘Architectural and Chronological Aspects of the Ancient Damascus Gate Area’, Israel Exploration Journal, 48.3/4 (1998), 223-235 David Kroyanker, Jerusalem Planning and Development 1979–82. Jerusalem: (Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies 1982). David Kroyanker, Jerusalem Planning and Development 1982–85: New Trends. (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Committee, Jerusalem Foundation, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1985). La Citez, in H. Michelant and G. Raynaud, Itineraires a Jérusalem, Geneva, 1882 [rep. Osnabrück, 1966), Ch. XV, 41. Mujir al-Din in Moudjir-ed Dyn, Histoire de Jérusalem et de Hebron (ed. H. Sauvaire), Paris 1876) 78-79.


Wendy Pullan, ‘Locating the Civic in the Frontier: Damascus Gate’, in: Did Someone Say Participate? An early atlas of spatial practice, eds., M. Miessen and S. Basar (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2006) 109-122 Wendy Pullan, Philipp Misselwitz, Rami Nasrallah, Haim Yacobi, ‘Jerusalem’s Road 1: An Inner City Frontier?’, City, 11.2 (2007), 175-97. Wendy Pullan, Maximilian Sternberg, Lefkos Kyriacou, Craig Larkin, Mick Dumper, The Struggle for Jerusalem’s Holy Places (London and New York: Routledge, 2013) Moshe Safdie, The Harvard Jerusalem Studio: Urban Designs for the Holy City (Cambridge MA: MIT, 1987) Sennett, Richard. "The spaces of democracy" in Beauregard, R & Body-Gendrot, S (Eds) The Urban Moment. Cosmopolitan Essays on the Late 20th Century City. Sage: London (1999): 273-285. Wightman, Gregory J. The Damascus Gate, Jerusalem: Excavations by C.-M. Bennett and JB Hennessy at the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, 1964-66. Vol. 518. BAR, (1989). Zahran, Yasmin, A Beggar at Damascus Gate (Apollo Press, 1995)


Documenting the Nature of the Traumatic Event(s)

A description of the traumatic event(s) is needed for an assessment of the conditions in which the reconstruction process might take place. The questions and prompts below are formulated to assist with that task. A. General Description 

What was/is the nature of the event (e.g. natural, human-caused, intentional/unintentional)?

 There have been many events: wars in 1948 and 1967; division of the city 1948-67; annexation/occupation of East Jerusalem 1967-present; acts of terror; civil unrest; prolonged army presence; general civic uncertainty. Because of the widespread destruction of the triangle, large scale infrastructural development has taken place and this is largely incompatible with the historic fabric and market activities. Design has been used to alleviate some of the problems, but many of the issues are socio-political ones. 

Was/is the event a unique occurrence or is it cyclical/repeated?

 The modern day events are politically motivated, not always predictable, but certainly repeated. 

Describe the area affected.

All of Jerusalem is affected. The Damascus Gate area is significant because it stands on the divide between East and West Jerusalem.

B. General Impact of the Trauma 

What is/was the impact of the trauma on the physical environment (e.g. property, landscapes, buildings, artefacts, etc.)?


Destruction of all buildings in the triangle and the creation of no-man’s land; minimal damage to Damascus Gate itself; reconstruction of the area in an unsympathetic manner; displacement of Palestinian population in Musrara West; on going occupation.

What impact has the trauma had on the society and economy (i.e. on social organisation and structure, social relations, the local/regional economy)? And on social, religious or ritual practice(s) and customs?

The greatest impact was between 1948 and 1967 when Jerusalem was divided and the international border ran next to Damascus Gate and through the triangle, with severe political, social and economic effects. Since 1967, Palestinian society has suffered from the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. In periods of relative peace, there is some everyday contact between Israelis and Palestinians; in periods of unrest, people shrink back into their own communities. The effects of the trauma have continued for 50 years. Over time the events have impacted on each other, becoming typical of complex, long term traumatic situations. This is a complicated subject and there is an extensive literature on it. It is worth noting that despite many problems and setbacks, as an urban centre the Damascus Gate area has exhibited considerable resilience over the years.

Were the various kinds of damage reported immediately or were there delays (e.g. due to immediate emergency/humanitarian interventions or for other reasons)?

The wars and the division of the city was widely reported through the international media. More insidious problems have been slower to become known, and they tend to be contested.

C. Impact on the Significance and Values of the Resource 

What are the impacts of the trauma on the significance-defining elements/attributes (both tangible and intangible) of the heritage resource?

The impacts are all-encompassing for the area; however the Damascus Gate still functions as an important city gate. The area around the gate has been altered in many ways, as already described. Just as important, the perceptions of the gate area are in constant flux largely due to the changing socio-political climate.

E. Documentation and Narratives


Was any emergency documentation collected? If so, what does it consist of? Was it shared with the relevant key agents and stakeholders?

The area of the triangle was a hostile no-man’s land for nineteen years. Documentation began after 1967 as part of the regeneration scheme. It was done in a piecemeal fashion by the Israeli municipal authorities, private architects, international student groups, etc.

Have post-trauma narratives emerged (e.g. on the conditions of the heritage resource, on the trauma itself, on its broader effects, on issues of safety, etc.)? If so, describe. Were any of these pre-existing in some form or were they newly created?

The narratives of trauma are extremely important and have coloured much of the subsequent thinking and emotions – both Palestinian and Israeli. The narratives of conflict pertain to different parts of the city and in a variety of ways are relevant to Damascus Gate and attempts to reconstruct the gate area.

Documenting Post–Event Appraisals 12

Please describe the situation that developed in the aftermath of the traumatic event, taking into consideration the questions below. In doing so, *please cite wherever possible the sources of the relevant information you provide (e.g. by direct examination or survey of the resource, published or archival material, website information, graphic or photographic resources, iconographic sources, oral sources).

A. Impact Assessment 

Has appraisal been carried out of the type and extent of impacts on the significance-defining elements (both tangible and intangible) of the resource? If so, has it been done explicitly in written form and accompanied by post-trauma survey and documentation?

Damascus Gate and some of the areas around it were studied and documented by Israeli authorities in order to make their development plans post-1967.

Have the level of damage and recoverability options been assessed? If so, was this done explicitly in written form? Were issues and options shared with the relevant stakeholders including the local community?

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Israeli planners made assessments and plans. An international advisory committee, called the Jerusalem Committee, was set up by Mayor Teddy Kollek and met a number of times. The local Palestinian community was not consulted.

Did the assessment of damage and recoverability options take into account intangible dimensions of the heritage resource? If so, describe.

 Most of the intangible dimensions were not assessed, not understood or simply ignored. My own work for Conflict in Cities devoted years to monitoring the site in order to understand the relationships between the physical configurations, the various activities and the more intangible meanings. 

Was a hierarchy of significance-defining elements (both tangible and intangible) established? If so, by whom? And when was this carried out (i.e. before or after the traumatic event(s))?

As part of the Israeli planning process.

If a hierarchy of significance had been established prior to the traumatic event (i.e. with reference to an earlier statement of significance), in what ways (if any) has it been modified since the traumatic event? Discuss the changes and the ways that they relate to the surviving elements/attributes of the heritage resource.

Change of national authority and political control has significantly altered the area throughout the twentieth century, although the basic historical resource (the Ottoman gate) remains significant. However, the surrounding areas are integral to the gate and without them, the gate loses its ‘everyday’ qualities and becomes a museum piece.

B. Post-Trauma Documentation 

Has post-trauma documentation been prepared? If so, please provide a description. Include the author names and their positions as well as explanation of the aims and purposes of the documentation.

A large amount of documentation and planning strategies were prepared by the Israeli authorities over a number of years. This also included archaeological and historical studies. Perhaps most revealing are the documents prepared for meetings of the Jerusalem Committee (1975; 1978; 1979; 1982); these describe many of the debates and show some change in attitude and practice over time. Plans for Damascus Gate are included in them.


C. Challenges for Recovery 

What are/were the main challenges and issues for recovery (e.g. technical, social, financial, decisional)? Please describe.

Points of view varied radically. For the Israelis, the main challenge was to recover and plan a Jewish city that would not be divided again. No mechanism was developed to incorporate the Palestinians. The Israeli euphoria after 1967 was slowly replaced by increasing conflict. The rehabilitation of the Damascus Gate area (amphitheatre, park, etc) was intended to showcase at this important location the Israeli reunification of the city. In the long term these projects have been unsuccessful in the terms they were intended. The Palestinians have been opposed to the Israeli interventions; for them, the gate area projects reflect the occupation. Most Israelis do not use these sites. The Damascus Gate tram-stop for the Jerusalem Light Railway is used to some extent by Palestinians and by local Israelis.

D. Recovery Programme 

What is/was the agenda for recovery of the heritage resource?

The agenda is a political one that has been realised, in part, through Israeli planning and architecture. As the political aims have only been partially divulged and have changed over time, the agenda is discernable mostly through the finished projects. Initially the Damascus Gate area appears to have been based upon a drive for increased tourism, modernisation, city beautification, clarity of Israeli control and the refusal to re-divide the city. Over time, segregation and Judaisation of Jerusalem have become more important. This reflects changes in political attitudes.

How many phases are/were there in the proposed recovery programme? What are/were the timescales for the implementation of the recovery programme?

This has been on going since 1967. Recovery in an orderly fashion is difficult in such a contested site. Political ambitions have changed over the decades and this has affected the work on the site.

What is/was the relationship between the specific recovery programme of the heritage resource and the overall recovery plans for the location/region?

The plans for Damascus Gate and its surroundings have been part of and reflect the larger Israeli planning of Jerusalem as well as changes in the political climate. This is a complex site. The repairs to the gate were relatively simple; the proposals for regeneration of the Old City has not materialised as planned. A large portion of the triangle north of the gate remains a car park with light rail transport and a motorway running through it. In my view, there has not been sufficient connection between the New City and Old City and there has been insufficient recognition of how the different areas function. The transportation infrastructures cause physical division across much of the gate area.

Who devised the recovery programme?

 The East Jerusalem Development Company and Israeli planning authorities working with private architectural, planning and engineering firms. Archaeological work was important in certain phases, but became to be seen as a commercial development opportunity.


What are the purposes and the (explicit/implicit) guiding principles of the recovery (e.g. conservation of post-trauma conditions, recovery of pre-trauma conditions, recovery of original condition, modification for adaptive reuse, reinforcement/retrofitting, improvement of manageability, community resilience, or a mix of the aforementioned)?

 There has been some discrepancy between which principles were voiced and which were unspoken. There have been many projects and initiatives over the years; they include: making the Roman remains visible and attractive; conservation of the Ottoman Gate; extensive modification of the immediate gate area, including: improvement of pedestrian accessibility to the gate area and reconciliation of the discrepancies in ground height; modernisation and sanitisation of the inner and outer gate market areas; increased green space; better accessibility for tourists; increased security and surveillance by army and police. Many primary concerns focused on tourism and visible Israeli dominance. Destruction of the built fabric across the triangle was seen as an opportunity for introducing extensive transportation infrastructures and these were eventually developed. There was little emphasis upon local population or the problems of the divided city. Continued segregation between Israeli and Palestinian areas appears to have been part of the planning policy although this was not voiced at the time. 

Have different/diverging options for the recovery been considered and discussed? If so, describe these options and provide an account of how choices and decisions were taken.

In many ways, the story of this site is a story of on going conflict. Difference of opinion amongst Israelis mostly took the form of where to respect the traditional urban fabric or whether to modernise. The former eventually prevailed, despite major infrastructural changes. There was considerable opposition to and debate on the introduction of Road 1. Amongst the Israeli public and professionals, debate and participation in the planning process was possible. The Palestinians were not included in the planning process and they have made their opinions known mostly through protest, including boycott of some of the Israeli-built facilities. The Palestinians were first of all concerned for the wellbeing of the markets and commercial trade and over time they have staged demonstrations to protect them.

Have the aims of recovery of the heritage resource been clarified? If so, has it been shared among all stakeholders (including the local community(ies)) and was it agreed? Please elaborate.

Very little clarification has been made public and there has been almost no agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.

E. Values and Sustainability  Describe any new values be documented that have emerged in the post-event appraisal phase and during the preparation of the recovery programme. 

The Damascus Gate area reflects changing political values of both Israelis and Palestinians. Heritage has been regarded as increasingly political by both.

Has thought been given to the financial, human and social costs of the recovery programme and future management/maintenance of the recovered heritage resource in its post-trauma context?

These concerns have been from the point of view of the Israeli authorities and population. The Palestinians have been largely ignored. Israeli political hegemony has been the dominant theme; increasingly, the desire for economic stability has been evident, especially in the form of anticipated tourism.


Have concerns about sustainability (e.g. economic, social, environmental) contributed to developing and defining the recovery programme and to planning future management/maintenance of the recovered heritage resource? Have local stakeholders/communities been made aware of these concerns and options?


Is/was capacity building a part of the planned recovery programme? If so, describe.


F. Drivers, Agents and Governance 

What/who are the drivers for recovery?

The main drivers have been the Israeli authorities and their vision of an undivided Jerusalem. However the Palestinians have taken some matters into their own hands; see below.

What role have financial grants played in driving the agenda?

Large scale donations from the Jewish diaspora have played some role.

What are the priorities and requirements of the recovery programme? Who identified, assessed and articulated the priorities and requirements? And what purposes do these requirements serve (e.g. change in functions, safety regulations, new standards)?

As noted, the recovery programme has been driven by Israeli interests. However, there are Palestinian markets inside Damascus Gate and north of the gate at the bottom of Ambiah (Haneviim Street. The square outside the gate acts as a good urban connector between the two and over time the amphitheatre has emerged as an ad hoc Palestinian market. This makes an active commercial route and much of the time the Israeli authorities do not interfere. A small number of Israelis use some of these markets/shops and there is a little interaction between the two peoples.

What are the roles of national/regional institutions, international organisations and donors, and other states and related agencies in the recovery programme.

Assessment, planning and building has followed the standard procedures of the Israel planning process. The Jerusalem Committee, as already noted above, was a consultative group in the crucial years after 1967. There has been no Palestinian involvement.

Are building contractors playing a role in the recovery programme? If so, describe the contractors (e.g. outsider or local, large or small scale, etc.) and their role.

Large scale Israeli contractors and developers win tenders for most of the established projects. The Light Rail was built by a French company.

What is the post-trauma governance framework? Describe any changes that have occurred in the governance following the traumatic event (e.g. emergency situation protocols).

Israel annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Were you directly involved in the recovery programme? If yes, in what role?

Only in long term monitoring and analysis of the situation for research purposes, and in no official capacity whatsoever. My work was based upon long term in situ research, including: interviews, site monitoring, archaeological and historical documentation, assessment of planning documents. The Damascus Gate area was one of the key sites studied by ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’, a series of grant supported by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ESRC), 2003-2013. 16


Documenting Actions, Timeframes, Resources and Costs

In this section, it is expected that actions undertaken and the programme implemented are documented. The questions and prompts below are formulated to assist with the task of completing this part of the report. In doing so, please consider the interface between tangible and intangible attributes of the heritage resource when discussing the implementation phase. A. Actual Implementation and Timescales for the Recovery Programme 

How was the programme implemented?

The major official projects were carried out through the official Israeli planning process, with approvals at local and regional level.

Under what conditions and constraints were the programme and recovery works executed (e.g. climatic, political, social, financial, deadlines, availability of skills or materials)?

Conflict conditions increased over the years and there has always been a resistant Palestinian population. International displeasure with the Israeli occupation continues to grow. Damascus Gate area has been a high profile project and Israel has ensured the necessary funds to carry out its plans.

What were the actual timescales and schedule of recovery works?

This has been a long and complicated process, extending from 1967 until the present and into the future (see Epilogue, below). The initial reconstruction and repairs to the gate were done relatively quickly. The amphitheatre and park were completed over a reasonable number of years. Other parts of the site, that have affected the whole city, like Road 1 and the Light Rail took many years and were subject to considerable interruption.

Were there discrepancies between the planned and the actual objectives? If so, describe.

Many changes were made over time. This is a highly contested area, mainly between Israeli and Palestinians. But there was also considerable debate amongst Israeli professionals and the general public about the advantages and disadvantages of Road 1 and the Light Rail and the division of the city.

Did new values emerge for the heritage resource as a result of the implementation phases? If so, describe.

Fair attempts were made to develop good physical design values; however the social and political values continue to be contested. Jerusalem remains divided and contested. The Damascus Gate area is a key public space in the city and remains critical if in future there will be any interaction between the two conflicted populations.

Were there attributes or values that could not be recovered? If so, describe.

Not in a traditional sense; but the functioning of the city that grew over centuries in a logical way around the gate is partially lost. The site remains central geographically but feeble in overall urban function. Some of its heritage value has been compromised.

B. Resources and Costs of Implementation


What resources and capacities were available (e.g. technical, organisational, institutional, human, material etc.)?

All available resources were provided by the Israeli authorities in order to accomplish their plans.

Were local communities (including, but not limited to, local craftspeople) involved in the implementation phase of the recovery programme?

Palestinians were not consulted. Palestinians often laboured as construction workers under Israeli supervision. Local stone masons (often Palestinian) were employed to work on the gate and some of the other areas but had no decision-making input.

Have you additional factors related to the implementation phase to describe?


Documenting the Outcomes and Effects

This section aims at providing an account of the outcomes of the recovery process and of the effectiveness of the actions undertaken with regard to the planned programme and actions. The questions and prompts below may be helpful in developing your account. In doing so, please present the shared or dissonant views of the various stakeholders, as well as the level of awareness of their mutual existence and of the reasons why different perspectives co-existed. Please also consider both the tangible and intangible attributes of the heritage resource and the interface between them. A. Assessment of the Outcomes with regard to the Recovery of the Heritage Resource 

What was achieved?

The physical restoration of the gate and the archaeological excavations were good and in a different political climate the designed areas of amphitheatre and park might have been successful. However the occupation continues and there has been no sensitivity to Palestinian needs. Palestinians addressed their own needs in the adaptation of the amphitheatre into a market but little more than that. The Light Rail can be very effective as public transport for both peoples but is subject to civil unrest and protest. Road 1 is a major north-south thoroughfare that perpetuates the strong division of the city. Much of the wider Damascus Gate area outside the city wall remains unfinished and derelict and the large transport infrastructures have made it difficult to develop these areas for pedestrians. With respect to the overall quality of the public space, and especially because it is a major landmark, the restoration and development programme has been faulty, problematic and incomplete.

Are there conflicting views about both the achievements and failures of the recovery project? If so, describe. To whom do these divergent views belong?

There is no agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. The development of the area is regarded by the latter as an Israeli political statement transformed into a major security crackdown. Amongst Israelis there has been some debate about missed opportunities and bad decisions, including how the development of the Damascus Gate area has affected wider city issues. In recent years changes in Israeli political policy have led to increased Jewish/nationalist presence with more extreme attitudes.

Which attributes/features supporting the cultural significance of the heritage resources were recovered? Which could not be recovered? Are there conflicting views on this matter?

The Gate still stands and the area is remarkably vibrant, especially considering it has been badly damaged and is still heavily contested. Palestinians have found ways to


carry on daily life despite many of the Israeli attempts to restrict their activities. Damascus Gate is a heritage area with meaning for both Palestinians and Israelis; it is secular and civic and as such there is some evidence that it can act as ‘common ground’. In my opinion, this condition could possibly be enhanced if there were the political will. 

Having implemented the recovery programme, what are the learning outcomes? Is there shared understanding of the lessons that have been or can be learned?

We see that physical heritage fabric and reconstruction needs to be accompanied by social and political sensibilities and cooperation. This case study shows an extreme case where local stakeholders utterly reject ‘improvements’ that have been imposed upon them. It shows how local stakeholders can, to some extent, reuse unwelcome projects and convert them to their own needs (as in the amphitheatre turned market).

What follow-up actions do you recommend be taken? To what extent are your views shared with other stakeholders?

The problem is not so much a matter of follow-up as a complete revision of attitudes. Local consultation would help but is unlikely in the current political climate. Proper regard for both sides of the gate in urban planning and recovery would help at even this late date. The traditional approach that isolates the historic fabric from the rest of the city has been wrongly conceived.

B. Ownership of the Results 

Who ‘owns’ the results of the recovery programme?

This is a complicated question and ownership is varied. The Palestinian’s capacity for orchestrating their own lives through the market spaces of the gate, although at a minimal level, is worth noting, and even though they remain very dissatisfied and angry. One important question: what aspects of the gate area might in future be understood as ‘civic’ and how can this status be further developed in the future.

C. Documenting the Recovery Programme 

What documentation was needed for correctly implementing the recovery programme? Was this documentation readily available?

 Reconstruction and development plans exist. There is relatively little documentation on the social and political issues. 

Has the recovery process been documented? If yes, by what means?

 Not in any systematic way. 

What new information, if any, about the heritage resource was produced during the recovery phase? Has it been disseminated? If so, how and to whom?

The archaeological findings were extended and have been made public. Much of the development material has been produced in a ‘public’ version; it is hard to say how much material remains classified. Language can act as a filter: some of the material is in Hebrew, much in English; there is very little in Arabic.

To what extent can the documentation and new information inform future actions and improve the level of effectiveness?

1. Many cities now experience long term conflicts and have divided societies. Some of the problems and misconceptions of Damascus Gate could be instructive. It is important to note that Jerusalem is not in a post-trauma phase and that an increasing 19

number of cities are experiencing a similar fate. 2. This case study shows the importance of thinking contextually. Even an important monument like Damascus Gate is not particularly meaningful without its larger setting. The present conflict situation can only be understood through the wider context – physical, political, social, economic, cultural.


Reflective Summary


Since finishing this case study assessment, the Damascus Gate area has undergone further changes. There are have been several knife attacks at the gate including two Israeli Border Police killed in 2016 and 2017. The Palestinian attackers were also killed at the gate. The response by the Israeli authorities has been to build three new, permanent checkpoints, in the form of small towers. One is at the gate entrance (two storeys from street level downward) and on Sultan Suleiman Street, one each (one storey) at the top of the two staircases leading down to the gate. All were completed in 2018. The structures can be manned or not, but remain strong physical insertions in the landscape; the enhanced security will undoubtedly affect the flow of people to and from the walled city and the life of the market. Palestinian leaders have expressed distress at this development. The palm tree park has been refurbished and cleaned, water is running and water features (fountains) added, and a small police station has been placed at the end of the axis of the park in clear view of all who walk in he park. It is difficult to say who will use the park; but the combination of increased security and refurbishment indicate an orientation to the tourist trade. Whether these changes will mark a new stage in this important landmark will only be understood over time. Please include any additional comments or observations related to your report not covered in the above rubrics.

The Damascus Gate area is both typical and not typical of heritage and reconstruction problems as they are developing in cities today. It is not typical because the situation in Jerusalem is extremely complicated politically and in many ways tied to the geopolitics of the region. Physical reconstruction represents only part of the problems here. However the story of the gate is typical of complex political, social and urban factors that are increasingly at play in cities all over the world today. As in Jerusalem, heritage has become a major factor within these dynamics. Damascus Gate is also typical of the extended time frameworks that we more and more encounter when traumas and conflicts increase and decrease at different periods over time but do not disappear. A post-conflict or post-trauma period may not exist in these situations; rather, the traumas change over time and impact upon each other indifferent ways. However, they do not disappear. This is the case with the Damascus Gate area; like all of Jerusalem, it is not in a post-trauma or post-conflict phase. The recent insertion of new checkpoints makes this clear. In my view, our understandings of heritage and reconstruction must engage with these new conditions and problems if we will be able to make informed and constructive decisions in the future.



1. Damascus Gate c.1860


2. Aerial photo of Damascus Gate and the ‘triangle’; Israeli Musrara on the left and Palestinian Musrara on the right, with Road 1 on the left side of the triangle and the palm tree park at the bottom.


3. Damascus Gate and the Palestinian market


4. Road 1 through the triangle; Israeli Jerusalem seen on the left and Palestinian Jerusalem on the right


5. Palestinians pass through Damascus Gate in view of soldiers at the newly constructed Israeli checkpost, April 2018