The City of David: the REAL Jerusalem of ancient times

King DavidIt’s no secret that Israel is one of the world’s top tourist destinations for students of history. Israel has been home to a great number of mighty ancient civilizations and seen a procession of well-known rulers throughout its lengthy history. Yes, the history literally oozes out of every corner in places like Jerusalem…

Of all the rulers to live in Israel, few are more famous and legendary than King David (pictured on the right). Instantly recognizable to anyone with cursory knowledge of Biblical history, this great king was responsible for founding Jerusalem, and the City of David is the perfect place to learn more about his great achievements. His son Solomon was also a big player in Jerusalem’s golden history, as the builder of the first Temple…

The City of David is best described as an archaeological park. It contains some marvelous ruins which provide some fantastic insights into the lifestyle and culture of King David’s subjects. It is one thing to read about David’s imposing citadel and his subjects impressive houses in the Bible and quite another to see them for yourself. The City of David provides you with the opportunity to do just that.

What can I see at the City of David?

Among the park’s most interesting attractions are the lavish houses that once belonged to the city’s wealthiest residents. With their towering structures’, it’s not hard to see why these houses once inspired praise and envy in all who came to visit the City.

City of DavidAnother don’t-miss attraction is the Tunnel of Shiloh (also known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel) which, even in today’s terms, must be regarded as an engineering marvel. This 533-metre long tunnel stretches all the way to the well at Shiloh. The engineers who built it started at both ends of the tunnel till they met in the middle. Considering the paucity of modern tools available to them at the time, the feat was truly remarkable. Visitors can walk the length of the tunnel and admire the craftsmanship of David’s builders and engineers. It’s an unforgettable experience. And the kids will love it, especially the bits with running water and flashlights!

If you want to fully explore the City of David, it’s a great idea to join one of the excellent guided tours organized by the Visitor’s Center (they cost 60 shekels, but well worth it – a private guide will cost you upwards of 370 shekels for a couple of hours). The main highlight of the tour, other than the Tunnel of Shiloh, is Warren’s Shaft. Students of Biblical history will be aware that many Biblical historians believe Solomon’s anointment and coronation as King of Israel occurred at this very site.

Warren’s Shaft also provides an insight into the inner workings of this great city. It was used not only as part of the city’s water transportation system, but also served as one of the tower’s for the city’s military defense. As you proceed through the City, the Center’s highly-trained professional guides will inundate you with amusing historical anecdotes as you pass ruins of interest. Their polished delivery really makes the history of the city come to life (definitely worth the small investment). By the time you complete the tour, you’ll feel as well-versed in the history of David’s reign as any expert historian.

Also worth catching is the lookout above the movie theater, which provides awesome views over the excavation site, as well as the the neighborhoods of Abu Tor, Silwan and East Talpiot.

Where, why, and how much?

Buses 1, 2 and 38 all pass by this popular site. Alternatively, if the weather permits, you may want to take a walk from Jerusalem’s Old City to the City of David (which is located near Dung Gate). The walk is relatively short and straightforward.

In the summer, the City of David opens from 08:00 to 19:00 from Sunday to Thursday and 08:00 to 16:00 on Friday. In the winter, the City opens from 08:00 to 17:00 from Sunday to Thursday and 08:00 to 14:00 on Friday. Times may change a little during Jewish holidays, so check with the official site for opening hours during these days.

The entrance to the Warren Shaft and the Shiloh water tunnel costs 27 shekels.

Alternatively, call 02-6268700 for further info.

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