Southern Steps

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Southern Steps are a set of an enormous flight of steps leads to the Southern Wall from the south. They were excavated after 1967 by archaeologist Benjamin Mazar and are the northernmost extension of the Jerusalem pilgrim road leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount via the Double Gate and the Triple Gate.


These are the steps that Jesus of Nazareth and other Jews of his era walked up to approach the Temple, especially on the great pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. The risers are low, a mere 7 to 10 inches high, and each step is 12 to 35 inches deep, forcing the ascending pilgrims to walk with a stately, deliberate tread. The pilgrims entered the temple precincts through the double and triple gates still visible in the Southern Wall.

These Southern Steps were used by rabbis and teachers from that period as a platform to spread their doctrines to the passing multitudes along this busy and crowded passageway. With over 50 ritual baths discovered in the vicinity so far, serving the multitudes before entering the Temple courts, this area was no doubt the busiest spot.

Archaeological Remains

circa 710 BCE

Southern Street
A 22-foot wide street also ran along the southern wall of the Temple and connected with the Herodian era street running along the Western Wall. About 37 feet of this street can still be seen at the southwest corner, where it begins to ascend rapidly through a series of stairs until it reaches the Double Gate. Although we know the route, the street is not visible after the initial 37-foot section until it reaches the Double Gate. At the Double Gate it is again visible down to the Triple Gate. Stairs run up to this street from the south, coming up the Ophel from the south.

circa 710 BCE

This flight of stairs is 210 feet wide, a combination of smooth stone slabs and carved bedrock. To the west of the large steps, a large fortification tower stands which was most likely built either during the Fatimid era or the Crusader era, today the al-Khataniyya library is esablished inside the lower parts of the this tower.

circa 710 BCE

Current State
The western part of the stairs that lead to the double gate are intact and "well-preserved." The eastern part o fthe steps that lead to the triple gate were mostly destroyed. Together, the double and triple gates are known as the Hulda Gates, after the prophetess Huldah.


See Also


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