Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The City of David

Yerushalayim, Jerusalem, The Holy City where the 3rd Temple will be rebuilt speedily in our days, the city of gold where both Temples once stood. The "old" city, the kotel, the Western Wall tunnel. When touring in Yerushalayim, there is so much to see, both from ancient and modern times.

The truth be told, the City of David, one of Jerusalem's most popular tourist sights, the place "where it all started", is a place you will probably want to visit with the assistance of a guide in order to appreciate what you are looking at. The good news is that pre-arranging for a guide is quite simple and can be done by contacting the City of David National Park. Of course that will mean an additional expense, but an expense I believe to be well worthwhile.

So where to begin? If you have the opportunity, my suggestion is to start at the 'tayelet', the Haase promenade in East Talpiyot which overlooks Abu Tur, facing north towards 'Har Habayit'. From this vantage point you can appreciate the idea of Avraham Avinu, while traveling together with his beloved son Yitzchak, looking afar at Har HaMoriah up ahead, and the place of the 'Akeida'. And if the sun is shining at the right angle when you visit, you can also discern the outline of the hill jutting out just south of Har Habayit where Dovid HaMelech established his capital 3,000 years ago.

The area is small (12 acres) when compared to the size of modern day Jerusalem, but what it lacks in size it definitely makes up for in the immense amount of history which is compacted into one of the world's most excavated places.

One of the many beauties of visiting the City of David is that they are always uncovering and discovering more and more of the ancient city's past. Before beginning your tour, enjoy the view of the Old City walls (actually, not that old when compared to the City of David itself!) and of the Mount of Olives. You can also arrange to view a 20 minute film. Definitely set aside some serious time, 2-3 hours, if you plan to visit this sight. Whether you end up spending more or less time here is up to you.

What will you see here? Remnants of what may have been King David's palace. Remains of the "stronghold of Zion" captured by King David from the Jebusites. Remains from the time of the First Temple. The different water systems of ancient Jerusalem, all emanating from the Gihon Spring where King Solomon was anointed king and from where water was also used for the services in the nearby Temple.

The highlight of the trip through this ancient city is a walk through the water tunnel constructed by King Hezekiah over 2500 years ago. If you decide to take this route, come prepared! (The kids will love it). It's about a 40 minute walk and the water is about 70 cm deep. You will need a flashlight and proper shoes for walking through the water.

After leaving the tunnel, you can visit the Shiloach pool and learn about all the recent discoveries in this area dating back to the times of both the second and first Bais Hamikdash.

The City of David website is very informative; or you can call *6033 for more information.

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