Ishtar Gate

Hillah,Babil, Iraq | C.575

Photo Credit: Osama Sarm

“I placed wild bulls and ferocious dragons in the gateways and thus adorned them with luxurious splendor so that people might gaze on them in wonder…” These are the words of Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon describing the Ishtar Gate. Thousands of years later, his words ring true as many the world over gaze in wonder when first encountering the ancient entryway.

Built in 575 BC, the Ishtar Gate was conceived as part of a grand processional way into the city of Babylon. The king envisioned it as a magnificent homage to the goddess Ishtar, for whom it takes its name. It is the eighth gate to the city of Babylon and is adorned in glazed bricks and vibrant blue tiles thought to be lapis lazuli.

A conqueror king, Nebuchadnezzar was as brutal and merciless as the dragons he placed on his Gate. He fought many campaigns west of Babylon, including against the Egyptians. His conquests are chronicled in the Bible including his siege of Jerusalem where he destroyed Solomon’s Temple and initiated the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish population.

In the early 20th century, German archeologists began excavating Babylon and came across the Ishtar Gate. They dismantled it and brought it to Berlin, where its facade controversially stands in the Pergamon Museum. The replica seen here stands in its original place as the Iraqi government fights for the return of the original.

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