Ancient City Gates with Lion Reliefs

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This article attempts to list the ancient city gates bearing reliefs of lions. The depiction of lions on the gate held different symbolic meaning for different civilizations.

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Overview

The theme of the Lion is ubiquitous among civilizations throughout the history as a symbol of power and overcoming adversity and enemies. In Babylon, the Lion was associated with the Goddess Ishtar.

List of the Gates

circa 1250 BCE

Mycenae
The Lion Gate of Mycenae was constructed during the thirteenth century BCE, around 1250 BCE, and is one of the best-preserved examples of Mycenaean architecture. The gate is situated on the northwestern side of the acropolis, overlooking the Argive plain. The Lion Gate is considered one of the most significant architectural achievements of Bronze Age Greece. It is the only surviving monumental piece of Mycenaean sculpture and the largest sculpture in the prehistoric Aegean.

The gate is made of two massive stone blocks, each weighing around 20 tons. The blocks were carefully cut and fitted together without mortar. Above the gate is a triangular stone lintel, upon which stands a relief sculpture of two lionesses in a heraldic pose. The Lion Gate served as the main entrance to the citadel of Mycenae, which was the center of Mycenaean civilization and a major cultural and economic hub of the time. The Lion Gate has survived for over three millennia due to its impressive construction and the dry climate of the surrounding region. Today, it remains a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Greece's rich cultural heritage.

circa 1240 BCE

Hattusa
The Lions' Gate of Hattusa is an ancient entranceway located in the archaeological site of the ancient Hittite city of Hattusa, in present-day Turkey. The Hittites were using the symbol of lions as the guardians of gates; evident from the ruins of Hattusha, the capital of the Hittite Empire. The Lion's Gate was built in the 14th century BCE during the reign of Hattusili III, the king of the Hittite empire. The Lion's Gate is situated on the eastern side of the city and is the most well-known entrance to the royal citadel.

The gate is made of large blocks of stone and has two towers flanking the entrance. The towers have recessed panels with relief sculptures of lions on them, which give the gate its name. The Lion's Gate is one of the most impressive and well-preserved examples of Hittite architecture. It is also considered to be one of the most important historical landmarks in Turkey. The Lion's Gate was the main entrance to the royal citadel of Hattusa and was used for both ceremonial and defensive purposes. The Lion's Gate was discovered by German archaeologists in the early 20th century and has since been restored to its former glory. It is now a popular tourist attraction and a testament to the impressive engineering skills of the Hittite civilization.

circa 575 BCE

Babylon
The Ishtar Gate was an ancient gate in the city of Babylon, in present-day Iraq, and it is famous for its impressive glazed brick reliefs of animals, including lions. The lions were depicted on the Processional Street leading up to the Ishtar Gate in high relief and are arranged in pairs on either side of the gate's entrance. The lions are shown in profile, with their heads turned towards the viewer, and their mouths are open, as if they are roaring. The lions are decorated with blue and yellow glazed bricks, and their bodies are outlined with white and black lines, creating a vivid and striking effect. The lions are also depicted with decorative elements, such as a curling tail and a stylized mane. The depiction of lions on the Ishtar Gate was intended to symbolize the power and strength of the Babylonian empire and to serve as a warning to potential invaders. The Ishtar Gate was built during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II in the 6th century BCE, and the lions on the gate have become an iconic symbol of Babylonian art and architecture.

circa 1538 CE

Jerusalem
The Lions' Gate of Jerusalem is a historical entranceway located in the eastern side of the walled city or the Old City of Jerusalem. The Lion's Gate was constructed in 1538 CE during the rule of the Ottoman Empire in Jerusalem. It is also known as Ssaint Stephen's Gate or the Sheep Gate. The Lion's Gate is located in the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. The gate has a distinctive design with four pillars on each side of the entrance, supporting a classic pointed arch. It is said to resemble the shape of a lion's head, which is how it got its name.

The Lion's Gate is a significant historical landmark in Jerusalem and has played an important role in the city's history. It was the entrance through which Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent entered Jerusalem after conquering the city in the 16th century CE. The Lion's Gate holds religious significance for both Christians and Muslims. For Christians, the gate is believed to be the site where Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death. For Muslims, it is one of the entrances to the Temple Mount, which is one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The Lion's Gate has been well-preserved over the centuries and is still used as an entranceway into the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a popular destination for tourists and visitors to the city who are interested in its historical and cultural significance.

See Also

References

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