The Citadel of David, just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City has a wonderful historical museum about the origins and development of the Citadel and the entire Old City. Just as Mesopotamia was conquered and reconquered over centuries, so was the location of the Old City of Jerusalem. The amazing this is that one conquerer did not dispose of what was already there, rather added to it. Excavations in the Old City are controversial to say the least so there is likely quite a bit that is unknown and probably will never be known about the earliest times of this city.
Model of the City of David for which there is some evidence starting in 4500 BCE though this is speculation since very little remains from the original settlement. You can see how strategically going up the hill was the main impetus for locating a settlement here and the spring at the bottom.
The spring was developed by King Hezekiah to bring water to the settlement., built approximately 8th century BCE.
This model of the Citadel of David shows many different levels of development mostly starting with Herod.
Model of what First Temple may have looked like. Also called the Temple of Solomon it was probably built in the 7th century BCE and destroyed in 586, that resulted in the first exile to Babylonia.
To those of you who are taking “Ancient Art History” these recreated reliefs will look familiar to you with what looks like the Ishtar Gate and an Assyrian type of register.
This may document the exile to Babylonia (a reconstruction)
Remains of Herod’s palace inside the Citadel, dating 1st century BCE.
The Second Temple was built in 516 BCE and then destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans ahead of the second exile. Notice the Temple Mount came to be during this time and you can see the Temple in the center.
This is the temple where Jesus is said to have spent time and these steps/arch are called Robinson’s Arch. It was part of an expansion of the Second Temple by Herod.
This is what remains of Robinson’s Arch, named for the Biblical scholar who identified it.
This is a replica from the inside of the Arch of Titus in Rome that depicts the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the people.
After the destruction of the Second Temple the Temple Mount is still there but there is nothing built there. That makes “room” for the Dome of the Rock completed in 691.
Skipping ahead to the Middle Ages, the Mamluks (meaning slaves) were a group of Turkish, Balkan, and Circassians who took power in Egypt and eventually made their way to Jerusalem.
Mamluk style of architecture is what we often associate with the Moorish style of two toned Islamic art including the muqarna (stalagmite type of ornamentation we see in the Alhambra in Spain and the Mesquita in Cordoba)
Finally to the Ottomans who occupied Jerusalem from 1517-1917 when they were thrown out by the British. They neglected the city so badly that it was a nightmarish place for people to live. That’s why in the late 19th century people began venturing out of the city to live.
The interior of the Citadel of David showing the various levels of habitation there and a beautiful glass installation by Dale Chihuly. (the green glass “growing” in the foreground). He filled the entire interior in the year 2000 so it’s nice to see they left something from that exhibition.
Model of the Old City at the Israel Museum in the new part of Jerusalem. At the front you can see the walls which are actually a late edition in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman.