The Lions' Gate

The Lions' Gate - one of the Old City of Jerusalem's eight gates - became famous in modern Israeli history after paratroopers of the Israel Defense Forces broke through into the Old City through it on June 7, 1967 during the Six-Day War.

The gate was built in 1538, during the days of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Legend has it that the Sultan began construction of the wall around the Holy City because he had a dream in which lions threatened to devour him if he did not build a wall to protect its residents. Construction of the wall began at this gate, and the two lions carved on it serve as a reminder of the lions that appeared in Suleiman's dream. Another suggestion is that lions, a symbol of the Mameluke Sultan ad-Din Beibars (the Mamelukes were a military caste, originally composed of slaves from Turkey, that held the Egyptian throne from about 1250 until 1517 and remained powerful until 1811), were used simply as a decoration, which is why it is called by some the Beibars' Gate.

The Lions' Gate is important to both Christians and Muslems. The Christian festive procession on Palm Sunday proceeds from the Mount of Olives to the Old City through this gate. For Muslems, this is the closest gate to Haram es-Sharif, as the Temple Mount is known in Islam. Nearby, a Muslim cemetery runs the length of the east wall. The Arabs call the gate Bab Sit Mariam, the Gate of Lady Miriam. According to some traditions Mary, mother of Jesus, was born in a nearby church, Saint Anna, and a street which leads from this gate to the Old City is called after Mary. This gate is also called the Mount of Olives' Gate since it faces the Mount of Olives.

The stamp, issued in 1972 to commemorate Israel's 24th Independence Day, is one of four depicting gates of the Old City. They were designed by E. Weishoff. The gate also appears on the back of the 5 Israeli Lirot banknote that was issued in 1976.