Ancient Babylon had two main lines of defence: an outer triangle formed by ramparts striking east from the Euphrates, and an inner rectangle of triple mud-brick walls enclosed by a moat. Eight fortified gates pierced the walls. The grandest, Ishtar Gate, was vast and ornate, leading to the Processional Way, which accessed the main ceremonial sites in the city centre. Foremost of these was the massive ziggurat of Etemananki – a possible candidate for the Tower of Babel – and the Marduk Temple. But the whole city was crowded with shrines and sacred sites, many encrusted with precious stones and metals by successive rulers. The royal palaces were set away from the centre, beside the city walls. The Hanging Gardens (if they existed) were probably constructed against the walls of one of these palaces, overlooking the Euphrates. The domestic residences were large and multi-storied, reflecting the opulence of the inhabitants; c. 100,000 dwelt in the inner city at its peak.
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