Ishtar Gate: Grand Entrance to Babylon

The Ishtar Gate, named after a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, was one of eight gateways that provided entry to the inner city of Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (reign 605-562 B.C.). It was decorated with glazed blue bricks that depicted alternating rows of bulls and dragons.

A processional way went through this gateway and was decorated, in part, with reliefs of lions. Every spring a procession that included the king, members of his court, priests and statues of the gods traveled to the “Akitu” temple to celebrate the New Year’s festival.

“The dazzling procession of the gods and goddesses, dressed in their finest seasonal attire, atop their bejeweled chariots began at the Kasikilla, the main gate of the Esagila (a temple dedicated to Marduk), and proceeded north along Marduk’s processional street through the Ishtar Gate,” writes Julye Bidmead, a professor at Chapman University, in her book “The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia” (Gorgias Press, 2004).[More]