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

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

62 thoughts on “Beyond The Gates……..

  1. Oh but you do things in style, Madhu! I’ve never seen a photo of the gate in the walls of Cairo before- looks interesting! But the standout shot has to be the Japanese shrine on the water. I love it!

    1. Yes the Otorii is magnificent. Cairo has several beautiful Fatimid gates (this is the only one left on the South wall) and the views from the minarets of this particular one are supposed to be magical. We passed because I was battling joint pain from a drug reaction.

    1. Strangely the images from Asia – excluding China – are from last year. until then we did more trips to the West than to places closer to home! Glad you liked my gallery Emily 🙂

  2. Beautiful gates. The one that speaks to me the post is that of Preah Ko, amazing to me that the remains stand since the 8th century! I find it beautiful.

    1. I love that one too Angeline, although the Luxor and Mycenae gates are very much older. It really is fascinating to see the evolution of temple architecture in the region over a period of 500 years!

  3. Oh happy recollections (and introductions – especially the tunnel-like arches at Fushimi Inari) … Madhu, your splendid collection sent me off on a different journey, leaving through these gates (from the mostly familiar) out into the unknown. At first that felt a little lonely, a little scary, but then the wonder of possibility opened up before me and I felt excited – as we always do – about the adventures ahead of me. The difference, I understand now, is that instead of stoking the fires of anticipation by busily preparing for my trip and learning about my destination, I must first bid farewell to my Paradise island – to let go – before I can turn around and enter my new life from the beyond.

    I tell you, it’s spooky the number of unintentionally pertinent posts I’ve been finding these last few days!

    1. These are after all symbols of transition Meredith…..”Frames and monuments to our spent time”. I wish you an easy farewell and many happy adventures across the threshold 🙂 And an equally easy transition for the Misses Kotte 🙂

  4. Beautiful Madhu. I agree with you, however, my greatest fascination is of a people that created these portals of the past/monuments of times and great knowledge lost. A people with a hidden secret to how they created such things without modern equipment we have today. Yet some of it can’t be duplicated by modern technology and machinery. Thank you Madhu. 😉

  5. Absolutely stunning Madhu! Thanks for yet another lovely and interesting tour. I do so love all those gates. Thanks for sharing hon. *hugs*

  6. In the archetypal vision, these “gates” represent man’s desire to find the passage “beyond the vision”, a kind of mystical door that connects the parallel worlds!
    Beautiful pictures, dear Madhu, which got perfectly into the idea of the colossal potential of human jorney, represented here by wonderfully valuable and impressive artifacts. :-)claudine

  7. a magnificent collection of gates madhu, thank you for your thoughts on their importance, your words lead us into meditations on life through the ages and the rise and fall of civilisation 🙂

  8. I love ancient gateways and entrances too, Madhu – and you have captured so many of them here, beautifully. Well done!

  9. Some great gates …. That Grand Gate is stunning. I think an adventure wait on the other side of every one of those gates.

  10. And, yes, indeed my dear dost – I did walk the path with you – through this beautiful photo-essay. I am catching up to your posts as I am in-and-out of blogging – your post (as all your posts) instantly adds a smile on my face.
    Madhu, you were made to photograph – through your lens – I see parts of the world I have yet to see but have seen through you. Lots of love.

  11. I like the way you do themes of pictures from different parts of the world. There is something mystical about gates, the way they can both allow passage or block it.

  12. No words to describe how beautiful these pictures look. Each one is different and unique and gorgeous!

  13. The experiences and memories you have, not to mention the countless fabulous photos of all of your travels, is priceless Madhu. With every photo you capture the vibe of the region and your prose transports me back in time. Your blog is such a joy to visit. 🙂

  14. Hanno un fascino particolare le antiche porte. Chi ne esce si apre al nuovo, per chi entra è l’annuncio di quel che sarà. Porte aperte, porte di comunicazione, punti di scambio tra le persone.

  15. Wonderful photos, Madhu. You are so blessed to visit so many beautiful places. I love the way you called the gateways ‘portals to the past’. I can feel your sense of anticipation. Fabulous!! Maybe you’ll post some photos of what you saw on the other sides? Bless you, dear friend.

  16. Nice idea. There is something very majestic and imposing about the gates in these pictures.
    Thanks Madhu 🙂

  17. Entering so many majestic, historic, mystical, celebrated gates —
    Has to have entered into you, and changed you.
    A privileged experience.

  18. Hi Madhu,
    There is so much in the world to see..I love to travel but time and situation and other factors doesn’t permit me to travel..You are so lucky to visit different countries.Hoping to travel with you by clicking follow 🙂

    1. Honoured to receive an award from you Judy….thanks once again.
      You are most welcome to use the awards showcase page format. I borrowed the idea from someone too 🙂

  19. Loved it. After looking at these beautiful architectural works, I just wonder about how it was back when they were built. Nice writing! 🙂

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