Tower of David

Tower of David

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The Tower of David is an ancient citadel
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

 located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

, and Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years, and is a popular venue for benefit events, craft shows, concerts, and sound-and-light performances.

The name "Tower of David" is due to Byzantine Christians who believed the site to be the palace of King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

.

History


During the 2nd century BC, the Old City of Jerusalem expanded onto the so-called Western Hill. This 773-meter-high prominence, which comprises the modern Armenian and Jewish Quarters as well as Mount Zion
Mount Zion
Mount Zion is a place name for a site in Jerusalem, the location of which has shifted several times in history. According to the Hebrew Bible's Book of Samuel, it was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace in the City...

, was bounded by steep valleys on all sides except for its northwest corner. After King David and his son the legendary King Solomon's initial fortifications, King Hezekiah may have been the first to specifically fortify this area. Centuries later, the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 kings surrounded the area with an impressive wall and large watchtowers, which historian Josephus Flavius (1st century BC) refers to as the First Wall.

Herod
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, 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
Phasael
Phasael was a prince from the Herodian Dynasty of Judea.-Origins and early career:...

 in memory of his brother who had committed suicide. Another tower was called the Miriam
Mariamne (second wife of Herod)
Mariamne I, also called Mariamne the Hasmonean was the second wife of Herod the Great. She was known for her great beauty, as was her brother Aristobulus...

, 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
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

 by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 in 70 AD, the site served as barracks for the Roman troops
Roman army
The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire...

. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 as the imperial religion in the 4th century, a community of monks established itself in the citadel.

After the Arab conquest of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (637)
The Siege of Jerusalem was a part of a military conflict which took place in the year 637 between the Byzantine Empire and the Rashidun Caliphate. It began when the Rashidun army, under the command of Abu Ubaidah, besieged Jerusalem in November 636. After six months, the Patriarch Sophronius...

 in 638, the new Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 rulers refurbished the citadel. This powerful structure withstood the assault of the Crusaders
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 in 1099, and surrendered only when its defenders were guaranteed safe passage out of the city.

During the Crusader period, thousands of pilgrims undertook the pilgrimage to Jerusalem by way of the port at Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

. 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.
In 1187, Sultan Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 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
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, who designed an impressive entrance, behind which stood a cannon emplacement. For 400 years, the citadel served as a garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 for Turkish troops. The Ottomans also installed a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 at the site and added the minaret
Minaret
A minaret مناره , sometimes مئذنه) is a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic mosques, generally a tall spire with an onion-shaped or conical crown, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery....

, which still stands today. It was during this time that the complex began to be called the "Tower of David", after the founder-king of Jerusalem.

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, British forces under General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem
Battle of Jerusalem (1917)
The Battle of Jerusalem developed from 17 November with fighting continuing until 30 December 1917 during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I...

. 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
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 established the Pro-Jerusalem Society
Pro-Jerusalem Society
Pro-Jerusalem Society was a society established in 1918 in Jerusalem. It was founded by Sir Ronald Storrs, Governor of Jerusalem during the British Mandate for Palestine, and Charles Robert Ashbee, an architect...

 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.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, the Arab Legion
Arab Legion
The Arab Legion was the regular army of Transjordan and then Jordan in the early part of the 20th century.-Creation:...

 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
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, the citadel's cultural role was revived.

Tower of David Museum


The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem was opened in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation
Jerusalem Foundation
The Jerusalem Foundation is an international non-profit organization whose goal is the improvement of the quality of life for all citizens of Jerusalem. It was founded in 1966 by the mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. The foundation is politically not affiliated...

. 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 Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite city to modern times. Using map
Map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....

s, videotape
Videotape
A videotape is a recording of images and sounds on to magnetic tape as opposed to film stock or random access digital media. Videotapes are also used for storing scientific or medical data, such as the data produced by an electrocardiogram...

s, 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.

External links