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Jerusalem Life

| Jerusalem Makes Old City Accessible in Massive Project

Zev Stub    
Tuesday, 19 March 12:07 PM

Monday, the City of Jerusalem launched a groundbreaking initiative that will ensure that all of the world-famous historical sites in Jerusalem are accessible to all. The initiative, which includes an app that provides accessible voice guided tours within the Old City, is the largest-scale accessibility project in any ancient city in the world. 

The accessibility project of the Old City is an innovative and groundbreaking project that enables the disabled to enjoy the historic and cultural wealth of the city. Among other things, four kilometers of streets in the Muslim, Armenian and Christian quarters were adjusted, and about 2 kilometers of handrails were installed alongside staircases. The accessibility is carried out with the cooperation of the merchants and the residents of the area. For the first time in years, residents of the houses within the walls can move around the narrow and steep streets and alleys, while significantly improving the quality of life.

The accessibility project of the picturesque alleys of the Old City is intended to ease the congestion in the main streets and to enable the users of freight carts (including strollers), wheelchairs and other handicapped people, to visit the city's tourist attractions.


The project includes: Roads fixing; Fixing and renovation of public services (including accessible); Adding direction and explanatory signs to the main sites and spatial maps along the main tourist routes; Upgrading the current cleaning and garbage collection system; Replacement of stone cladding; Highlighting historical or archaeological findings of public interest; Installation of infrastructure cladding for water clocks and a garbage collection point in the tourist area according to the "street language"; Renewal of business complexes, facades and facilities along the route; And the completion of promenades from Zion Gate to the Dung Gate along the northern outer wall.

In order to complete the process, the East Jerusalem Development Company also produced a printed accessibility orientation map along with a dedicated application in 8 languages that enables real-time navigation between the alleys and sites (GPS-based, similar to Google Maps).

In addition to these projects, complementary projects were implemented to make a holistic solution to the city accessibility: The Old City can be reached by means of the free P&R shuttle to the Old City, which runs from the First Station Compound to the Dung Gate and back on a daily basis (Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 to 20:00, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 07:00, Friday - until one hour before Shabbat enters). The shuttle departs every 20 minutes, with an accessible shuttle for wheelchairs once an hour. The parking is on a daily basis (approx. NIS 17 per day).

Visitors to the Old City are invited to download, free of charge, accessible guided tours in the "Vocal Tours of the Old City" application (in the Jewish Quarter, Via Dolorosa, Temple Mount, Jaffa Gate and Zion Gate).


The accessible routes:

South to North - from Zion Gate to the Damascus Gate (the Cardo Route).

West to East - from the Jaffa Gate to the New Gate - to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall Plaza (accessible). Moreover, partial access to David St. and HaShalselet Street.

The rest of the routes are marked on the map.

Among the streets that have been made accessible by now are: Khaladia, Saraih, Madrasa, Morristan, Maronites, St. Mark, Ararat, Bikur Cholim, the Searini Monastery, the Archangel, and others.

More info at https://www.accessible-roads.com and on YouTube 

Mayor Moshe Lion: "The Old City of Jerusalem has been important to billions around the world for thousands of years. Today, I am proud to say that the Old City of Jerusalem is accessible to billions more. This accessibility project is unique to Jerusalem. Today, we are the leaders in accessibility and are paving the way for ancient cities around the world. Obviously, this was not an easy task. As you can see, the streets of the old city are steep, narrow and ancient, not designed for accessibility. Now, all visitors and residents can enjoy four kilometers of streets in the Muslim, Armenian and Christian quarters and explore our city's rich and vibrant history."

The Old City of Jerusalem and its walls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore are subject to special preservation rules designed to present the city and its heritage to its visitors, while developing and upgrading it to the benefit of its residents and employees. The Old City is the most visited place in Israel with about 10 million visitors each year.

The Old City accessibility is being funded by the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority, together with the Ministry of Tourism, the Accessibility Department of the Jerusalem Municipality, the National Social Security Agency and the Israel Antiquities Authority, carried out by the East Jerusalem Development Company and accompanied by accessibility consultants according to local topographical restrictions, at a cost of over 20 million NIS.

         
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