King Nebuchadnezzar II ordered the construction of the gate and dedicated it to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. The gate was constructed in about 575 BC on the north side of the city.

The roof and doors of the gate were made of cedar, according to the dedication plaque. The bricks in the gate were covered in a blue glaze meant to represent lapis lazuli, a deep-blue semi-precious stone that was revered in antiquity due to its vibrancy. The blue glazed bricks would have given the façade a jewel-like shine.

The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was part of a grand walled processional way leading into the city / Image: by  flickr.com/youngrobv Image source

Through the gate ran the Processional Way, which was lined with walls showing about 120 lions, bulls, dragons, and flowers on yellow and black glazed bricks, symbolizing the goddess Ishtar. The gate itself depicted only gods and goddesses. These included Ishtar, Adad, and Marduk. During celebrations of the New Year, statues of the deities were paraded through the gate and down the Processional Way.

It was excavated in the early 20th century, and a reconstruction using original bricks, completed in 1930, is now shown in Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum. Other panels are in many other museums around the world.

Model of the main procession street towards Ishtar Gate / Image source

 

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