The Gates of Babylon

16 Sep

Pergamon 2The Ishtar Gate, the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon, once one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and still a high ranking bucket list item for me. I chose my hotel specifically for its proximity to The Pergamon, a world renowned museum, and the modern era home of Nebuchadnezzar’s great gate. In the mornings as I walk past The Pergamon on my way to a nearby cafe I look towards it, the sun rising over the imposing building, lighting the empty courtyard with delicate morning rays.

pergamon 6 gates close upWhen I return from my morning writing and espresso I look to The Pergamon and find the once peaceful courtyard filled with tour groups and students. One morning I walk onto the grounds, the next I approach the ticketing line but visit Nefertiti in the Neues Museum instead. One day I even pause near the end of the ticketing line for a moment. I have put it off, thinking my friend I’m meeting up with later in my journey may like to join me. Eventually the allure becomes overwhelming and I cannot wait another moment. I would gladly enter a second time should my friend wish to see the gates herself. It’s a two hour line to buy tickets. I stretch the entire time. Tourists watch me, wondering what I’m doing, my excessive flexibility impressing some, repulsing others. Groups were led in efficiently, and the line moved quickly, of course, this is Germany.

pergamon 5 gatesI climb the stairs to the second floor where the gates are located, I passed through the stairwell doors, and to my left the procession, to my right, the gates. Everything except those stones ceased to exist and I am drowning in awe. The blue and gold of the stones are swirling around me in every direction. I don’t know where to look first. I dwarf to experience the gate in its full glory so I make my way to the end of the procession way without stopping on my course to admire a single brick. I reach the end, I stand in the center of the entrance, and I turn to face the Ishtar Gate and procession way in all it’s grandeur. It is magnificent. I’ve dreamed of seeing these gates forte entirety of my adult life, and they are every bit as magnificent as I had ever dreamed. Walking through the procession way I imagine the people who walked through here every day, and those who had traveled from far away and saw these as they entered Babylon. I look up at the imposing walls as they shoot towards the sky. I pause to gaze into the eyes of one of the lions on the wall. And as I pass into the throne room I stand breathless under the gate. I want desperately to touch it, but know that is a privilege rightfully held by only it’s caretakers anymore. pergamon 4 gates selfieThe throne room walls are dwarfed by the gate. The room would be small for a leader by today’s standards, but is magnificent. I stand near one of the walls and think about the things that have been discussed and done between these slabs of cold stone. I know, even now, that as the years pass, and memories to look back on become more abundant, this will remain one of the richest.

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