The Tower of David, Jerusalem
The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Today it is one of the major tourist attractions in Jerusalem.
Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today has ancient foundations and was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian, Muslim, Mamluk, and Ottoman 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.
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, 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 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, 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. Of the three towers, only the Phasael tower – named in memory of Herod’s brother who had committed suicide – still stands today.
The citadel in its present shape was built between 1537 and 1541 by the Ottomans. For 400 years, the citadel served as a garrison for Turkish troops. The Ottomans also installed a mosque at the site and added the minaret, which still stands today. It was during this time that the complex began to be accepted as the "Tower of David", after the founder-king of Jerusalem.
During World War I, British forces under General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem. 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 established the Pro-Jerusalem Society 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.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab Legion 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, the citadel's cultural role was revived.
The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem was opened in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation. 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 Canaanite city to modern times. Using maps, videotapes, 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 magnificent view of the Old City and New City of Jerusalem.
The stamp was issued in 2011, as part of the 3-stamps series Visit Israel 2011. Designer: Meir Eshel.