In the wake of the detachment of stones from the Old City walls of Jerusalem, a survey was conducted with the aim of gathering information regarding the physical state of the wall as a basis for drawing up a multi-year conservation plan. The survey encompassed the outer, inner and upper surfaces of the wall, save the eastern wall of the Temple Mount where only its outer face was examined.
The city wall of Ottoman Jerusalem was constructed between 1535-1538 CE at the initiative of the sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. The wall was erected for reasons of foreign and domestic security, political prestige and economic motives. One of the security reasons surrounding its construction was the rumor that Kaiser Carl V intended to conquer Jerusalem, and another reason was in response to increasingly frequent attacks by the Bedouin.
The wall encloses the Old City of Jerusalem and thus serves as a partition between the Old City and the New City. It is a paramount historic monument and symbolizes the city. The overall length of the wall as the crow flies is 3,800 m and 4,325 m along the ground. It ranges in height from 5-6 meters next to Herod’s Gate to a maximum height of 10-15 meters. The thickness of the wall at its base is about 2.5-3.0 m and 1.4-1.8 m in the arrow loops. There are seven gates in the wall from the Ottoman period and three later gates, 35 towers (of them only are 17 completely built towers), 344 arrow loops, 135 decorations and 16 inscriptions.
Running the length of the wall are numerous sections in need of conservation treatment. The most common physical problems are: stone weathering, stone disintegration, open joints, cracking stones, lack of drainage, and vegetation. No conservation measures were undertaken at the site apart from specific actions such as the treatment of a deformation in the southern wall of the Temple Mount.
The survey recommendations define two levels of urgency for the treatment:
(1) Urgent conservation intervention along approximately 380 m of the wall, in 11 specific locations, as well as the stabilization of 32 merlons.
(2) Conservation maintenance that is required along c. 1,280 m, in 29 specific locations and in 20 merlons.
A directive was also issued stating the work will be implemented according to a detailed conservation plan and carried out by a team of professional conservators.