The Tower of David citadel in the Old City of Jerusalem has always been one of those places I’ve wanted to check out. Last week I finally got round to visiting, and as a result, the Tower of David has rocketed straight into the igoogledisrael.com must-see list!
If you like your Holy Land history, your fortresses, and want to take in some awesome views of the Old City, the Tower of David will give you an excellent taste of all of those – just don’t forget to bring your camera for those stunning panoramas of the Old City! If I’m not mistaken, the views from the citadel ramparts have to be the highest and probably most unobstructed views of the Old City in the whole of Jerusalem. Me, I’m a views man, and those panoramas certainly charmed the pants off me…
Right next to the Jaffa Gate entrance inside the Old City, the Tower of David is unquestionably one of the main symbols of Jerusalem. That Minaret of the Mosque, over on the right side of the citadel, has to be one of the most featured and photographed buildings in the Holy Land (another reason not to forget the camera)!
Fortunate to be guided by Caroline, the Tower of David PR guru, we were given a great history lesson of the citadel (by the way, there are self-guided audio tours you can take with you that last 60-90 minutes and which you can download in MP3 format from here) and shown through some of the rooms that make up the museum. These rooms are part of the citadel itself and many were formerly used as guard rooms.
Caroline told us all about the layers of history that make up the citadel (built in the 2nd century BCE) and showed us how to spot the different characteristics of each layer according to who ruled the roost at the time. Those former rulers of Jerusalem include Herod, the Romans, Christians, Muslims, Mamluks and Ottomans, who all left their mark on the citadel building on top of each others previous renovations and fortifications.
Among many of the things to watch out for, in addition to those rampart panoramas:
A cute animated history of Jerusalem by Italian artist Emmanuelle Luzzati (a great place to start your tour of the Tower of David and Old City, and great for the kids too!)
Original stone cannonballs
A segment of the wall surrounding Hasmonean Jerusalem (the first wall around Jerusalem)
Remains of monumental steps probably from Herod’s palace
Remains of a fortress from the Ummayid dynasty (7th and 8th centuries CE).
In addition to the permanent museum exhibitions, the Tower of David also has a number of ongoing exhibitions and events that are always worth checking out. For example, the current Letters and More exhibition (which runs til August 2011) tells the story of the alphabet. Worth catching, and included in the admission fee to the citadel anyway.
And just when you think you’ve had your fill of history, citadels and Davids, grab yourself a ticket to the Tower of David Night Spectacular (I’d recommend you save yourself a few shekels by buying the two-in-one tickets for admission to the citadel and to the Night Spectacular). Be prepared to be spectaculated (yes, I made that up)! I wasn’t actually expecting much from a show that labels itself a “Spectacular”, but I have to admit, I was bowled over. And as I have a review of the Night Spectacular in the pipeline, I won’t give too much away…let’s just say you won’t be disappointed.
All in all, two thumbs up from me, and I’m chuffed to add a major Jerusalem icon to the “done and dusted” list! I’ll be back, and maybe with the kids in tow next time…and check out our video below for some more pics…
Tower of David Opening Hours
I’d highly recommend checking the opening hours for the Tower of David, because most of the time the site closes at 16:00.
September – June:
Sunday to Wednesday 10:00-16:00, Thursday 10:00-18:00, Friday: closed (open for group visits – coordinate in advance)
Saturday, holiday eves, holidays 10:00-14:00
July – August:
Sunday to Thursday, Saturday: 10:00-17:00, Friday: 10:00-14:00
To get into the Tower of David citadel and museum, you’ll be paying between 15-30 shekels, depending on your age. For the Night Spectacular, between 30-55 shekels, though as I mentioned above, the two-in-one deal will save you a few shekels.