Jerusalem is home to more than 200 unique historical sites and picking a favorite is not an easy thing to do. One of the greatest adventures you could try while in the city is a slushy walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnels also known as the Siloam Tunnels. Here are three exciting reasons why you might want to pick these ancient tunnels as one of your favorites.
One, there is so much history riding on this site and that proves the historical validity of the Old Testament. The Old Testament books of 2 Kings and Chronicles talk about the tunnels and why King Hezekiah of Judah built it.
According to Biblical history, the king constructed this engineering feat around 701 BCE to divert water from Gihon Spring from outside the city to the Pool of Siloam inside the City of David. According to biblical account, after the king heard of an impending Assyrian attack, he planned to block the source of water coming from outside the city. To divert the waters into the city, he told his men to dig the curving tunnels so that they would serve as an aqueduct from the spring to the pool.
Unknown to the invading Assyrians, the Jews had a steady source of water underground. With it, Hezekiah did not fear the ancient war tactic typically employed during those times and that was to cut the source of water leading to the city under siege.
Meanwhile, as with any ancient structures, it baffles modern thinking how this 533-meter-long tunnel was actually dug and constructed. An ancient Hebrew inscription (now referred to as the Siloam Inscription) was written near the exit of the tunnel and it describes exactly how it was dug. It tells of how two teams of diggers began digging from both ends and met at the middle far underground. It’s amazing how they were able to meet at exactly the same point, although there are marks that show directional errors. Some believe the ancient diggers were led by the sound of hammers pounding on the earth above.
Today, visitors to the tunnels could clearly see the old marks of ancient pickaxes going one direction and then going the other direction after they passed where the two teams of diggers met.
The tunnels were discovered by Captain Charles Warren, a British explorer.
Second, visit Siloam Tunnels for the fun of it. Tourists are welcome not only to see this ancient marvel but also to walk through it. How often can you say that you’ve walked where a historical Biblical king also once walked?
Finally, a visit to the tunnels is the best excuse to go to the City of David, the most ancient neighborhood in Jerusalem. According to popular belief, it is in this area where King David built his palace and established his kingdom. Today, it is a major archeological site and is known as the ancient biblical Jerusalem.
A package tour to Hezekiah’s Tunnels costs about 25 NIS or USD 6.25, which is not at all expensive for something so historically significant. The site is located at Off Ophel Road in the City of David. It is open to tourists every day including holidays.