Biblical Archaeology Review 44:5, September/October 2018

Site-Seeing: Worth Seeing from the Inside

By Jonathan Klawans

Biblical Archaeology Review

Every visitor to Jerusalem has seen David’s Tower—the picturesque fortifications beside the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, marked by a 17th-century minaret that is, improbably but indelibly, associated with King David.

Based on my unscientific surveys, too few visitors have ventured inside the complex. This is unfortunate: Today, the Turkish-era citadel houses the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem. In my view, this is the very best place to begin any tour of the city. Whether you are coming for an extended visit or just a few days, consider giving this institution the number-one spot on your Jerusalem itinerary.

In this singular space—which will take 90 minutes of your time at least—visitors experience a multimedia overview of Jerusalem’s history, taking in panoramic views of Jerusalem along the way, all the while walking among (and along) remains from the Hasmonean, Roman, early Islamic, Crusader, and Turkish periods of Jerusalem’s history—2,000 years of fortifications layered one on top of the other.

As you walk through the facility, rooms are devoted to various periods of Jerusalem’s history, from the Canaanite period to the British Mandate. The exhibits themselves are educational—almost no actual artifacts are on display. But don’t let this turn you away, for the displays are unique in their own ways. Here are three highlights, among many: a hologram depicting Solomon’s Temple, an oil painting on multi-layered glass depicting the interior of the Byzantine Nea Church,a and a detailed cross-section model of the Dome of the Rock.

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