Beyond The Gates……..

Ancient city gates – those gigantic entryways, patiently clocking the footfalls of generations – hold a special fascination for me.

Set into heavy fortifications or floating on water, these gates were more than mere access points. Most were hubs of trade, places where city edicts were read out and hangings executed.

Some were symbolic and exclusive, based on cultural perceptions of purity. The right to cross those thresholds was determined by social standing or royal privilege.

But they were all, without exception, works of art. Declarations of the wealth and importance of the city state.

So they fascinate me, thrill me with the anticipation of discovering what lies beyond…….even if all that remains is just a frame, or a pile of stones.

Come walk with me through these portals to the past.

Qianmen Street, Beijing

Qianmen Gate (Forbidden city) framed by the colourful arch on Qianmen pedestrian street

Angkor Thom Gate

One of five grand entrances to the city of Angkor Thom. One in each cardinal direction and an extra Victory Gate on the East leading directly to the royal palace

Preah Ko, CAmbodia

Ruined gate to Preah Ko, (Sacred Bull) an 8th century temple in Hariharalaya (now known as Roulous), the first capital of the Khmer kingdom

Bab Zuweila, CAiro

Bab Zuweila is the last remaining Southern gate on the Fatimid walls of Cairo.

Hadrians Arch, Jerash

Hadrian’s Arch – built in 129 AD to mark Emperor Hadrian’s visit. It is now the main entrance to the ruins of Jerash.

Domitian gate, hieropolis

The Domitian Gate leading to the colonnaded main street of the Necropolis

Inti Punku or Sun Gate, the ancient access point to the Sanctuary of Machu Pichu.

Inti Punku or Sun Gate, the ancient access point to the Sanctuary of Machu Pichu.

Karnak Temple - Egypt

This avenue of Sphinxes leads from the quay to the temple’s enormous and unfinished entrance pylon

Otorii - Itsukushima

The Grand Gate on the water leading to Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima island.
Commoners were not allowed on the island for the longest time, and were expected to pass through the Otorii to worship at the shrine, whose floating structures ensured, these people stepped through a transitional threshold – between land and sky – thus safeguarding the sanctity of the sacred island from ‘defilement’!

Related articles:
Jake’s Sunday Post: Entrance
Crossing Thresholds
The Grand Gate On The Sea