“City of David” is one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel. Located just outside the old city of Jerusalem, The City of David bears the oldest remains of Jerusalem, including significant remains from the time of David’s kingdom when his capital was here.
A Short History of the City of David
Ancient Jerusalem was established on a slope above a significant source called the Gihon Spring. The oldest finds at the site attest to human settlement here 5000 years ago. Some 3000 years ago the Book of Samuel records David conquering the site and establishing here his capital of the United monarchy. He named it the “City of David”, although later the Bible referred to it as “Jerusalem”.
Solomon, David’s son, built a temple on the hill above the city (The Temple Mount), and a royal tomb complex was also established in the city.
The city of David / Jerusalem miraculously lasted an Assyrian attack in 701 BCE, but was conquered and destroyed later by the Babylonians. Despite the traumatic destruction and exile of its people, some 70 years later, groups of Jews managed to return to Jerusalem and resettle it.
In Maccabean times the city expanded towards the north, and eventually the area of the City of David was abandoned and left outside the city walls. In the 19th century the area was used for farming, but with the expansion of Jerusalem Muslims repopulated the area again.
Called in Arabic “Silwan”, the modern era Muslim neighborhood makes it difficult to explore and excavate the site. Nevertheless, over the years various discoveries were made at different parts of the site. Most of the development in recent years is led by ELAD organization. Under their management the city of David is, by far, the most excavated and developed for tourism site in Israel.
Touring the City of David
The City of David offers many archaeological tourist attractions. Under the visitors’ center, the possible remains King David’s palace are presented, some are on top of the massive slopes uncovered in Area G. An underground curved tunnel from Canaanite times leads to a 15 meters karstic shaft named after its discoverer – Warren’s shaft.
From the main spring of the site one can walk along two ancient water tunnels – the “dry” Canaanite Tunnel, or the extreme style hike through the “wet” Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Both lead to the ancient Pool of Siloam, said to be a place where Jesus preformed a miracle (John 9).
Nearby a mysterious set of carvings are suggested by some to be traces of King David’s Tomb. In recent years it is also possible to walk from the pool of Siloam to the Southern Wall Archaeological park underground! This exciting experience is possible by clearing a 2000 year old Herodian drainage channel.
It is also recommended to book tickets to the “City of David Nighttime Show“. This multimedia presentation focuses on the Jewish restablishment of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah, some 2600 years ago.
A tour of the City of David is a unique experience. It provides a first-hand experience of appreciating the long and turbulent history of Jerusalem.
Setting a Bar-Mitzvah Ceremony in the City of David
With such a long and rich history, the City of David is a great location for a Bar or Bat-Mitzvah ceremony. Reading from Torah at the same place where some of it was written is a very unique and meaningful experience. With the accommodating facilities set by ELAD organization, the event can be set with all amenities, and continued with a special VIP tour of the site.