Early Travels in Palestine: Comprising the Narratives of Arculf

By Thomas Wright | Go to book overview

THE TRAVELS OF BISHOP ARCULF IN THE HOLY LAND.
TOWARDS A.D. 700.

WRITTEN FROM HIS DICTATION, BY ADAMNAN, ABBOT OF IONA.

ARCULF, the holy bishop, a native of Gaul, after visiting many remote countries, resided nine months at Jerusalem, and made daily visits to the surrounding districts. He counted in the circuit of the walls of the holy city eighty-four towers and six gates, the latter being distributed in the following order:-- the gate of David on the west of Mount Sion, the gate of the valley of the Fuller, St. Stephen's gate, Benjamin's gate the little gate leading by a flight of steps to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and the gate called Tecuitis; of which, the three most frequented are, one to the west, another to the north, and a third to the east. That part of the wall which, with its towers, extends from the gate of David over the northern brow of Mount Sion, which overlooks the city from the south, to the precipitous brow of the same mountain which looks to the east, has no gates.

The city itself begins from the northern brow of Mount Sion, and declines with a gentle slope towards the walls on the north and east, where it is lower; so that the rain which falls on the city runs in streams through the eastern gates, carrying with it all the filth of the streets into the brook Cedron, in the valley of Jehoshaphat. On the 15th of September, annually, an immense multitude of people of different nations are used to meet in Jerusalem for the purpose of commerce, and the streets are so clogged with the dung of camels, horses, mules, and oxen, that they become almost impassable, and the smell would be a nuisance to the whole town. But, by a miraculous providence, which exhibits God's peculiar attachment to this place, no sooner has the multitude left Jerusalem than a heavy fall of rain begins on the night following, and comes only when the city has been perfectly cleansed.

On the spot where the Temple once stood, near the eastern wall, the Saracens have now erected a square house of prayer,

-1-

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