PHOTOS: Portals to history and conflict — the gates of Jerusalem's Old City

A man runs as Jerusalem's light rail passes by at New Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)

JERUSALEM — Jews, Muslims and Christians pass daily through the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City on their way to and from prayers or simply to go about their everyday business in one of the most politically sensitive spots on earth.

There are eight gates — seven are open and one is sealed — along the Old City walls that were built in the 16th century by Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

It’s always busy at Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim quarter, and at Jaffa Gate, facing west toward the Mediterranean, where local residents and tourists mix in markets lining stone alleyways.

Palestinians walk past vendors as they enter through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)

Lions’ Gate — two pairs of heraldic lions are carved on the archway — is also known as St. Stephen’s Gate. It faces east, toward ancient Jericho. It is often crowded with Muslim worshipers after prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest shrine.

Many Jewish worshipers take another route to Judaism’s nearby Western Wall. They pass through the Dung Gate, the closest entrance to the holy place, and Jewish families on their way to celebrate a 13-year-old son’s bar mitzvah can be spotted making their way to the wall.

Security is always tight in this volatile area at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli police patrol and closed-circuit TV cameras monitor the passageways of the Old City.

A man walks along a path near the Golden Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)

Israel views all of Jerusalem, including the walled Old City that it captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as its “eternal and indivisible” capital.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, where the Old City is located, as the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise/Reuters - Photography by Nir Elias/Reuters

Photos taken in spring and fall of 2019

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A man is silhouetted as he speaks to a group of children near Zion Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A Muslim man carries a prayer mat as he walks near Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A picture taken with a long exposure shows Zion Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men carry bags as they walk near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A group of female Israeli soldiers smile as they walk near Dung Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A picture taken with a long exposure shows Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A man points as he looks up while standing near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
People are seen near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A man walks near Zion Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Palestinians walk through Herod's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A picture shows New Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Streaks of light are seen in a general view picture of Dung Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Vegetables for sale are seen near Herod's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A general view picture shows Golden Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A car enters through Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters)

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