The Tower of David is an ancient citadel that looms over Jerusalem. It’s impossible to miss this stunning structure just before you enter the Old City near the Jaffa Gate. Inside the citadel is the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to ancient antiquity. It is a history marred by repeated tragedies, exiles, wars and destructions but highlighted with glorious victories, achievements and spirituality. Jerusalem has given birth to the three leading Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which is truly a significant contribution to the world.
The museum within the chambers of the ancient citadel brings to life 4,000 years of the Holy City’s history. Many of the relics on exhibit were from the citadel’s courtyard itself and which date back to about 2,700 years. With old maps, artworks, scale models, documents and artifacts, the museum maintains different exhibit rooms that represent different city rulers throughout the centuries. For the convenience of museum guests, the exhibits bear an explanation in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
The Jerusalem Foundation maintains and operates the museum, which was opened for public viewing in 1989. According to the Foundation, more than 3.5 million people have visited the citadel and museum. The museum’s leading supporters are Dame Vivian Duffield and the Clore Israel Foundation.
The Tower of David itself is a piece of historical wonder. It was constructed some time in 2nd century BC to strengthen the Old City’s defenses. It has stood the test of time, having been destroyed and rebuilt through the years by different conquerors of the city including the Ottoman Turks, Christians and Muslims.
The tower isn’t really King David’s. Its naming was a historical mistake that had stuck for millennia. The ancient structure is actually the Tower of Phasael built during the time of King Herod. Early Christian leaders in the Byzantine period began referring to it as the Tower of David after apparently misinterpreting the writings of Josephus Flavius. Muslims also wrongfully associated the Phasael Tower with King David. They referred to it as “mihrab Nabi Daub” or “prayer niche of the prophet David”.
Today, other than for the museum, the citadel is also a popular venue for concerts, benefit events, and sound-and-light shows. It adds a special attraction to the museum since guests are allowed to climb up the ramparts to enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of the city. A most recent attraction that’s drawing huge crowds is the Night Spectacular show. It is an outdoor display of lights and sounds with exciting characters and images projected onto the citadel walls.
Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world and will remain to enjoy global spiritual significance to millions of pilgrims, devotees and religious people, as well as those who love archeology, architecture and Eastern culture. As the City of Gold continues to create beautiful history, the Tower of David Museum is ready to document it. The museum is open every day except on Fridays, official holidays and holiday eves.