The Citadel or Tower of David in Jerusalem, Israel

Tower of David – the Gate of Time in Jerusalem

What is the Tower of David in Jerusalem famous for? What to see inside the fortress, how to get to the local museum – opening hours and ticket prices 2022.


The Israeli landmark is located between the modern and old neighborhoods of Jerusalem. It is represented by a massive fortress that used to protect this ancient city. Today there is a museum in the tower of David and public events are often held inside the citadel. The original structure was built in the second century BC, but the fortress was repeatedly destroyed by the invaders of Jerusalem.

Prior to these barbarian events, the original initiators of construction were King David and his successor, Solomon. Later, several kings who ruled before A.D. refined the construction.

When the serene existence of Jerusalem was interrupted by the Roman invaders, a barracks was placed inside the citadel. Then Rome converted to Christianity and priests settled in David’s Tower. By 638-th the city was seized by Arabs who in addition strengthened construction. The resulting citadel withstood the onslaught of the Crusaders, but still surrendered to the besieging army. The new owners enclosed the Tower of David with a moat to protect the pilgrims to Jerusalem.

In 1260 the structure was defeated. By the 16th century, however, the Turks had taken over the fortress and over the decades restored and ennobled it. Later, during the British Mandate, it was repaired as a cultural site, though the final status of a peaceful building the fortress acquired only in 1967.

Tower of David – what to see today

Although David was the founder, the modern appearance of the structure was created almost throughout the multifaceted history of Jerusalem. Outwardly it is a gray-stone structure with strong walls and towers. Inside the citadel there is an archaeological park and an area for exhibitions and other public gatherings. In addition, color and music shows are regularly held there.

The massive gate protected by cannons was built by the Ottomans. They also built the mosque and the adjacent minaret whose cylinder still rises above Jerusalem’s Old City. Of course, visitors can climb the walls and enjoy the scenery.

Museum and Archaeological Park

Open since 1989. Most of the exhibits are housed within the structure but there are also guided tours of the courtyard – the archaeological park there is also worth seeing. The gallery of the Tower of David was opened because of the abundance of artifacts of 2700 years of age discovered on the territory of the citadel.

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The exhibition is divided into historical eras. Inside is a real comprehensive insight into the fate of Jerusalem. In addition to ancient artifacts, visitors are shown films and other entertainment. At night, for example, the museum demonstrates the most interesting light performances. Independent tourists are allowed to visit the attraction every day, the tour is initially included in the ticket price.

The most interesting thing awaits travelers after sunset. On the territory of the fortress there is a tradition of light shows, to which you can buy tickets separately from visiting the museum. The spectacle is extraordinary!

The light show lasts about 40 minutes. Wear warm jackets and prepare to spend the entire time outdoors. A few things to know before you buy your tickets:

  • The light show begins with a short tour of the grounds;
  • Attendance is accessible to people with disabilities;
  • There is no performance under inclement weather conditions;
  • No photography is allowed throughout the Tower of David during the show;
  • Late arrivals will not be permitted due to the nature of the show.

Open Hours and Ticket Prices

The Tower of David Museum is open to visitors every day, seven days a week (except for special feast days).

Visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Friday to 2 p.m.). In July and August, the working hours of the Tower of David are shifted by an hour: you can get into the museum until 17-00.

Address of the museum: Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem 9114001, Israel.

Visitors are offered a one and a half hour guided audio tour of the exhibit itself, the archaeological sites and the fortress grounds (download the free app in advance from the official site During the audio tour is proposed to make 35 (!) Stops. Happy, as a rule, remain both adults and children. A visit to the Tower of David is possible year round, weather conditions do not make any adjustments.

Tickets to the Tower of David (prices in shekels):

Museum Exhibit: Night Light Show: Two-in-one (Museum Exhibit + Night Light Show):
Adults: 40 55 70
Students: 30 50 55
Children (under 18): 18 45 55
Retirees (Israeli citizens): 20 50 55
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Tours in Jerusalem at the best prices

The most interesting tours of Jerusalem and the surrounding area are the itineraries from locals. They create them creative people who can easily and entertainingly talk about thousands of years of history. All tours are conducted in Russian.

Tower of David on the map of Jerusalem

Beautiful pictures of the Tower of David. A selection that will give you an idea of one of Jerusalem’s museums – almost in the open air:

The Citadel or Tower of David in Jerusalem, Israel

Just outside the city walls of Jerusalem is the Citadel, also known as the Tower of David, which houses the unique Jerusalem History Museum. However, in addition to a tour of the museum, tourists are also attracted by a walk along the walls, which offer a wonderful view of the entire city. This is where Jerusalem is as if in the palm of your hand. The current Citadel building dates mainly from the 14th century, but some parts were added in 1532 by Suleiman I. However, excavations have uncovered the remains of a building dating back to the second century B.C., which indicates that there was already a fortress at this site during the time of Herod the Great.

Citadel or Tower of David in Jerusalem, Israel - Photo 2

Citadel or Tower of David at Jerusalem, Israel

This fact supports the suggestion that this may have been the place where Jesus was tried. This massive fortress was built on a strategically weak point in the defense of the Old City. It was destroyed several times during its existence by the conquerors and then rebuilt. The citadel became known as the Tower of David because the ruling Byzantines at the time were confused by the city’s topographical plan. Today the minaret, added in 1655, is also called the Tower of David.

Tower of Fasael

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Tower of Fasael

The walls of the Citadel are equipped with loopholes and have the same floor plan as in the time of the Crusades. They date mainly from the 14th century, and today you can walk around them almost all around their circumference and enjoy a stunning view of the city. The citadel also includes the rugged defensive tower of Fasael, built by Herod the Great and named after his brother. It was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135. Fortunately, it underwent a partial restoration in the 14th century. The unique entrance gate to the Citadel, decorated with three arches, was built in the 16th century. On the steps in front of it General Allenby accepted the surrender of the city in 1917 . Inside the Citadel is a large courtyard that boasts archaeological sites from virtually every period, from the 2nd century B.C. to the 12th century.

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Jerusalem History Museum

The Jerusalem History Museum, which was opened in the Citadel in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation, has many attractions. It introduces more than 4,000 years of Jerusalem’s history, from the founding of the Canaanite city to the present day, and depicts Jerusalem during the reigns of various rulers. More than three million visitors come to the museum every year . There are three well-marked itineraries to explore the museum.

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Jerusalem History Museum

The “Lookout Tour” goes through the forts and ramparts and offers some of the most beautiful views of the new and old parts of Jerusalem. Another, the “Excavation Road,” is devoted to the archaeological discoveries found in the courtyard of the fortress. The last so-called “Exhibition Tour” is for anyone interested in the detailed history of the city. It includes a diorama, models and small exhibits.

The exhibition tour begins at the Fasael Tower, where visitors will see a short animated film. It then moves to the roof where there are several models depicting what Jerusalem looked like in different historical times. From the tower of Fasael, the path heads to the east tower, whose first two sections focus on the founding of Jerusalem and date from 3150 to 587 B.C., the period of the first Temple. Among the exhibits on display is a copy of an Egyptian statue from 1900 B.C. that bears an inscription first mentioning the existence of Jerusalem. There’s also a model of the 10th century city of David and how the city’s water supply system functioned back then.

Eastern Tower

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East Tower

The spaces in the lower floors of the East Tower are filled with exhibits depicting the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. Most of them are copies of Persian decorative slats, the originals of which are now in the British Museum in London. One room is also devoted to a three-dimensional view of another Temple, but there are also illustrations of the three fortress towers of Herod, one of which later formed the basis of the Fasel Tower. Before heading to the next exhibition hall, you can admire a bronze replica of Verrocchio’s statue of David, as well as a Renaissance engraving that also depicts the young King David.

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Southeast Tower

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Southeast Tower

In the Southeast Tower, one of the smaller rooms is devoted to works from the Roman center of Elia Capitolina. This was a city built on the ruins of the destroyed Second Temple. Individual floors were decorated with mosaics modeled after Hadrian’s Villa in Rome. There is a unique model of the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre. A number of early Islamic monuments prove that the Citadel also served as a mosque in the past. The complex is supported by a mihrab, a prayer niche facing Mecca, and a minbar which is a pulpit. In the center of the hall is a detailed tin model of the Temple of the Rock, which shows what the Old City has to offer visitors today.

Northwest Tower

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Northwest Tower.

The exhibition space ends with the large Northwest Tower where an extensive model of Jerusalem during the Ottoman period can be seen. The last of the rooms is a short walk through time telling the story of the influx of Christian pilgrims and Jewish immigrants to the Promised Land. The 30 years (1917 – 1947) of administration of the territory under the British Mandate is documented on a total of nine screens with video projection. One can see many historical photographs. Of particular interest is the Lumière brothers’ film from 1896 which depicts the construction of the railroad connecting Jerusalem with the port of Jaffa. The tour ends in front of a large model of Jerusalem from 1873 by a Hungarian artist.

Sidon Funerary Caves

The caves served as splendid sepulchres for influential and wealthy families. The undiscovered burial caves all date to the Greek period from the 4th to the 2nd century BC. The most famous of them was discovered in 1902. The first Europeans to enter it were travelers John Peters and Hermann Thiersch. On entering the tomb, accompanied by a guide, they found the walls decorated with unique paintings. Unfortunately, the faces of the characters depicted had been badly damaged by Sheikh Beth Guvrin, who considered such scenes blasphemous since Islam prohibits the depiction of living beings.

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A week after the painting was discovered it was photographed by a Jerusalem photographer sent there by the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem. The photos were presented to Dominican scholars from the French Biblical School in Jerusalem who made watercolor copies of the paintings and also copied the inscriptions on the walls of the tombs.

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The Sidonian burial caves

All these illustrations were also used for Peters and Thiersch’s book, published in 1905 by the Palestinian Research Foundation under the title “Painted Tombs in the Necropolis of Marissa”. Although measures were taken to protect the frescoes and the entrance to the tombs was sealed off, the paintings weathered and were eventually damaged and completely destroyed by vandals who broke into the tombs. In 1993, the paintings were accurately reconstructed from photographs and pictures from Peters and Thiersch’s books.

The most evocative tomb is accessed by a staircase carved into the soft chalky limestone. The vestibule opens to a hall from which three burial chambers emerge. Above the stone benches edging the walls of the chambers is a series of deep vaulted niches into which the bodies of the dead were placed. After the funeral, the niches were sealed. After about a year, the remains were removed and the bones moved to the next room. The walls are decorated with animals, but the artist was certainly no zoologist.

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The Sidonian burial caves

The animals are not drawn in proportions , their shapes are sometimes bizarre and it is difficult to understand what kind of animal it is. The lion has a human face and eagle wings, the giraffe has a long neck, but the head of the rhinoceros is too big. The three-headed Cerberus dog is painted on the doorjamb, guarding the entrance to the underworld. There are many inscriptions on the walls of the tombs. Many of them also provide valuable data. The longest inscription found in the main chamber, not related to the funerary rituals.

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