Tower of David

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For the building in Caracas, see Centro Financiero Confinanzas.
The Tower of David and the City walls.

The Tower of David (Hebrew: מגדל דוד‎, Migdal David, Arabic: برج داود‎, Burj Daud), also known as the Jerusalem Citadel, is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

The citadel that stands today dates to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. It was built on the site of an earlier ancient fortification of the Hasmonean, Herodian, Christian and Arab-Muslim eras, but was destroyed after the Mamluk conquest of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back over 2,000 years including a quarry dated to the First Temple period, and is a popular venue for benefit events, craft shows, concerts, and sound-and-light performances.

Dan Bahat writes that the original three Hasmonean towers were altered by Herod, and that "The northeastern tower was replaced by a much larger, more massive tower, dubbed the “Tower of David” beginning in the 5th century C.E."[1] The name "Tower of David" is due to Byzantine Christians who believed the site to be the palace of King David.[2] They borrowed the name "Tower of David" from the Song of Songs, attributed to Solomon, King David's son, who wrote: "Thy neck is like the Tower of David built with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armor of the mighty men." (Song of Songs, 4:4)

History[edit]

A mosque inside the citadel.


As evidenced by the archaeological discovery of the Broad Wall, King Hezekiah was the first to specifically fortify this area. The cities fortifications demonstrate that by the late eighth century the city had expanded to include the hill to the west of the Temple Mount. The motivation for building the walled fortification was the expected invasion of Judea by Sennacherib. The wall is referred to in Nehemiah 3:8 and Isaiah 22:9-10 [3] [4]

During the 2nd century BC, the Old City of Jerusalem expanded further onto the so-called Western Hill. This 773-meter-high prominence, which comprises the modern Armenian and Jewish Quarters as well as Mount Zion, was bounded by steep valleys on all sides except for its northwest corner. The first settlement in this area was about 150 BC around the time of the Hasmonean kings[1] when what Josephus Flavius named the First Wall was constructed.

Herod, who assumed power after the fall of the Hasmonean dynasty, added three massive towers to the fortifications in 37–34 BC. He built these at the vulnerable northwest corner of the Western Hill, where the Tower of David is now located. His purpose was not only to defend the city, but to safeguard his own royal palace located nearby on Mount Zion. Herod named the tallest of the towers, 145 feet in height, the Phasael in memory of his brother who had committed suicide. Another tower was called the Miriam, named for his second wife whom he had executed and buried in a cave to the west of the tower. He named the third tower the Hippicus after one of his friends. Of the three towers, only the Phasael still stands today.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, the site served as barracks for the Roman troops. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the imperial religion in the 4th century, a community of monks established itself in the citadel.

After the Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638, the new Muslim rulers refurbished the citadel. This powerful structure withstood the assault of the Crusaders in 1099, and surrendered only when its defenders were guaranteed safe passage out of the city[citation needed].

During the Crusader period, thousands of pilgrims undertook the pilgrimage to Jerusalem by way of the port at Jaffa. To protect pilgrims from the menace of highway robbers, the Crusaders built a tower surrounded by a moat atop the citadel, and posted lookouts to guard the road to Jaffa. The citadel also served as the seat of the Crusader kings of Jerusalem.

The Tower of David and archeological garden, as it appears today

In 1187, Sultan Saladin captured the city and the site. The Mamluks destroyed it in 1260 and later rebuilt it. The citadel was rebuilt yet again between 1537 and 1541 by the Ottomans, who designed a large entrance, behind which stood a cannon emplacement. For 400 years, the citadel served as a garrison for Turkish troops. The Ottomans also installed a mosque at the site and added the minaret, which still stands today. It was during this time that the complex began to be accepted as the "Tower of David", after the founder-king of Jerusalem.

During World War I, British forces under General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem. General Allenby formally proclaimed the event standing on a platform outside the entrance to the Tower of David.

During the period of the British Mandate (1917–1948), the British High Commissioner established the Pro-Jerusalem Society to protect the city's cultural heritage. This organization cleaned and renovated the citadel and reopened it to the public as a venue for concerts, benefit events and exhibitions by local artists. In the 1930s, a museum of Palestinian folklore was opened in the citadel, displaying traditional crafts and clothing.[5]

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab Legion captured Jerusalem and converted the citadel back to its historical role as a military position, as it commanded a dominant view across the armistice line into Jewish Jerusalem. With the Israeli victory of 1967 after the Six-Day War, the citadel's cultural role was revived.

Tower of David Museum[edit]

A Dale Chihuly chandelier hangs in the entrance hall of the Tower of David Museum.

The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem was opened in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation. Located in a series of chambers in the original citadel, the museum includes a courtyard which contains archeological ruins dating back 2,700 years.

The exhibits depict 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history, from its beginnings as a Canaanite city to modern times. Using maps, videotapes, holograms, drawings and models, the exhibit rooms each depict Jerusalem under its various rulers. Visitors may also ascend to the ramparts, which command a 360-degree view of the Old City and New City of Jerusalem.

As of 2002, the Jerusalem Foundation reported that over 3.5 million visitors had toured the museum.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dan Bahat (2007). "Jerusalem Between the Hasmoneans and Herod the Great". In Arav, Rami. Cities Through the Looking Glass: Esays on the History and Archaeology of Biblical Urbanism. Eisenbraunds. pp. 122–124. ISBN 978-1575061429. 
  2. ^ Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, The Holy Land, 22.
  3. ^ Jerusalem: an archaeological biography, Hershel Shanks,Random House, 1995, p. 80.
  4. ^ Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem: The finds from areas A, W and X-2 : final report Volume 2 of Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem: Conducted by Nahman Avigad, 1969-1982, Nahman Avigad, Hillel Geva, Israel Exploration Society, 2000.
  5. ^ Towerofdavid.org.il

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°46′34″N 35°13′40″E / 31.77611°N 35.22778°E / 31.77611; 35.22778