Jerusalem is due to unveil Israel’s longest suspension bridge on Sunday night, connecting Mount Zion with the Hinnom Valley to the south. The bridge will make Mount Zion’s holy sites and Jerusalem’s Old City more accessible to pedestrians.
“For the benefit of Israeli citizens and visitors from abroad, we built the bridge, with the spectacular view, in order to upgrade the tourist experience in the area,” said Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz. “The summer holiday is a great opportunity for Israeli families to come and experience the uniqueness of the place. We will continue to invest in promoting Jerusalem as a leading tourist destination.”
Tourist attractions on the Mount Zion side of the bridge include King David’s Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper, the Chamber of the Holocaust and Dormition Abbey. Pedestrians can continue into the Old City by walking through Zion Gate.
The southern end of the bridge is located near the agricultural farm in Gai Ben Hinnom, known for its ancient agricultural activities, including olive picking, wine-making and honey production. Nearby tourist attractions include the City of David National Park, Sultan’s Pool, and the First Station shopping and restaurant complex.
A separate initiative to build a 1.4 kilometer (4,600 foot) cable car line connecting the First Station to the Old City has raised objections over cost-effectiveness, and also environmental and political issues. Cable cars would reach the Dung Gate, from which tourists would enter the Old City directly to the Western Wall plaza.
According to legend, Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent intended for Mount Zion to be included within the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, but his engineers mistakenly left it outside. The walls were completed in 1541.
The Hinnom Valley below the bridge was a no-man’s land between 1949-1967, when Jordan occupied Jerusalem’s eastern neighborhoods. The valley now features hiking trails.
The bridge will be open every day between 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. to pedestrians only. Children up to the age of 14 are required to be accompanied by an adult.
The 20 million shekels ($5.4 million) project was funded by the Jerusalem and Israel Tradition Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality in collaboration with the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Moriah Company.
“The suspension bridge is an addition to tourism in the city,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon. “Jerusalem as the leading city in Israel is regularly upgrading its tourist sites and investing millions in the development of internal and external tourism in the city. I invite everyone to come and visit Jerusalem.”