The Tower of David Museum is located within the citadel and explores the Jerusalem’s full story through exhibitions and educational tours.
The Citadel, and the archaeological finds unearthed here, are part of the events that shaped the face of Jerusalem from the days of the kings of Biblical Judah until today.
Remains of a wall dating to the end of the First Temple Period were found in the Citadel complex. This was a fortification wall built during the reign of King Hezekiah 2,700 years ago as part of the cities defense.
The Hasmonean kings built a massive wall and towers on the site of today’s Citadel complex. Dozens of ballista stones were discovered near where they landed 2,200 years ago. In addition, a royal palace was also built in the Citadel area.
Herod added three large towers to Hasmonean wall to protect the royal palace built adjacent to the towers. However, only one survived the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans who camped in the ruins of the Citadel.
Byzantine monks came to Jerusalem and saw the last remaining tower. They mistakenly believed that King David built the tower and called it the “Tower of David.”
Of these three towers, only the base of the one the Tower of David remains today. The original structure was destroyed during the last decades of Crusader presence in the Holy Land by their Muslim enemies. After that, it was incorporated into the Ottoman citadel of the city.
However, in the 1800’s, the conspicuous minaret took over the title of “Tower of David,” so that the name can now refer to either the whole Citadel or the minaret alone.
During the British Mandate the Citadel was used as an art gallery, museum, and cultural center.
After Jordan attacked Israel during the Israeli War of Independence they took control of part of Jerusalem including the Citadel. Until Jerusalem was reunified after the Six Day war it was used as a fortress.
Today, the Citadel is returned to a place of cultural significance as The Tower of David Museum. It is also used as a backdrop for cultural events.
The guardrooms have been restored and are used for the permanent exhibition, while the Crusader halls are used today for temporary exhibitions.
In 2014, the Tower of David Museum opened a new wing, the Kishle, in an old prison complex. A tour of the Kishle exposes the depth of history in Jerusalem, and tells the rich story of the Citadel.
For visitor information and to buy tickets check out the Tower of David website.