Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square
Located just inside the Jaffa Gate, the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square is one of Jerusalem's Old City's favorite locations and meeting points, as well as a historic site lined with ancient buildings of crucial religious and cultural importance.
Named for Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, an important caliph in Muslim history and one of the most important companions- or sahabi- of the Prophet Muhammad, Omar lived in the 6th and 7th centuries CE. As one of the closest people to the Prophet, he played a crucial role in the development of Islam, and is revered till today for his just nature and pious religious outlook.
The Al-Khattab Square is surrounded by several structures of historic and religious importance- first and foremost the Jaffa Gate itself. This gate, which was built in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman, was inaugurated in 1538 and has been serving the Old City of Jerusalem ever since. It connects the New City of Jerusalem with the Old City and the Armenian and Muslim Quarters. Its entrance, adjacent to the Mamilla neighborhood and the newly constructed Mamilla Mall, serves numerous groups of visiting tourists, as well as local residents of Jerusalem.
Also located on the square, the Tower of David Musuem (or David's Citadel) is one of Jerusalem's oldest guard towers, and many believe that it was constructed by King David himself. During the Crusader Period, the Jaffa gate was even known as David's Gate.
Another interesting building located on the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square is the Kisla, a former jail used during the Ottoman Period. Currently, this beautiful old building serves as an Israeli police station for the Jerusalem Precinct of the Israeli Police. Archeologists believe that this building was constructed on the ruins of King Herod's Palace, which was used during the Second Temple Period. Additional archeological digs which are currently underway are expected to shed more light on this interesting find.
The Omar Square is also home to two hotels- the former Amdurski Hotel (known today as the Petra Hotel), and the Imperial Hotel. In addition, several international banks have acquired stunning historic buildings on the square, making these landmarks their Jerusalem headquarters.
The Omar Square is home to several restaurants, mostly run by local Arabs and serving delicious local cuisines like hummus, kebab, tahini and more. These popular eateries offer a chance to combine an outstanding, affordable lunch with a view of the beautiful square and the endless action occurring within.
Serving as an important entrance to the Old City, the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square leads directly to the Armenian Quarter and to the Arab Suk. The Muslim, Christian and Jewish Quarters are minutes away, as are the Old City's important religious landmarks- like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque.
With an extensive history, the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square serves as a bridge between old and new, ancient and modern. It is one of Jerusalem's most important landmarks, and one of the most visited sites in the Holy City.