Recently opened to the general public! Come explore an underground tunnel commissioned by Herod the Great, who is widely recognized as the greatest builder of ancient times. Highlights of the 1.5 hour tour include seeing and touching the south-western cornerstone of the Temple Mount, walking along Jerusalem's main thoroughfare during the Second Temple period, and hearing about the incredible artifacts discovered inside the tunnel, including a bell made of pure gold, a Roman sword, and a Temple seal.
While the modern city of Jerusalem bustles with life above ground, below ground, the ancient city of Jerusalem is being rediscovered, one pickaxe at a time. The City of David, located outside the Old City Walls actually predates the Old City by hundreds of years. Measuring only 11 acres, Jerusalem's birthplace is unsurprisingly one of the most extensively excavated sites in the region.
The guided tour begins in the City of David at a lookout point that enables a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The Old City and the Temple Mount to the north, the Mount of Olives to the east, the City of David is spread out before us to the south, and the Mount of Zion to the west. A brief explanation is given about the site and what one can expect to see.
The first stop is an excavation that might very well be the site of King David's Palace. Archaeological excavations revealed foundation stones from the 10th century BCE, the period when King David lived and ruled. Bullae, clay seal impressions bearing Hebrew names from the Bible were found, as well as a tower that was part of the city walls during the days of Nehemiah, who lived during the Second Temple period.
Next up is the Givati Parking Lot Excavation, which as its name implies, used to be a parking lot, before becoming the largest archaeological excavation in Jerusalem. A platform system allows visitors to see the excavation below, which is still active. Discoveries span the ages, uncovering layers of life in the city from the First Temple Period until the Islamic Period. The guide will provide an up-to-date picture of the discoveries made at the site.
The tour continues below ground, through a water-drainage tunnel that collected rainwater and channeled it outside of the city. Abutting the tunnel runs a road that was the main thoroughfare of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period. Built by Herod the Great, the tunnel also served as a refuge for Jews trying to escape the Romans. Inside, numerous artifacts were found that tell the story of Jerusalem and its destruction. The climax of the tour comes towards the end, as we behold the impressive foundation stones of the Temple Mount, which lay hidden for thousands of years.
Exit the tunnel beneath Robinson's Arch, located inside the Old City walls, and onto the grandiose road where the Jewish pilgrims walked, two thousand years ago.
The 1.5 hour tour concludes with a brief explanation of the site, and an invitation to return to explore other exciting sites inside the City of David.