New night experience at Tower of David

'King David' transforms the walls and archeological excavations of the Citadel into a giant-sized cinematic production.

‘King David’ remakes the citadel as a giant outdoor canvas (photo credit: NAFTALI HILGER)
‘King David’ remakes the citadel as a giant outdoor canvas
(photo credit: NAFTALI HILGER)
Nearly a decade has passed since the Tower of David Museum first brought the art of sound and light to Israel. The Night Spectacular was the first of its kind in the country, telling the story of Jerusalem in bold, bright cinematography on the walls of the capital’s citadel. Since then there have been other shows added to the nation’s nighttime calendar, such as one on the archeological excavations of Bet She’an and a sound-and-light show in the City of David.
However, as of April 1, King David is the dazzling new kid on the block, taking art and technology to new levels as the citadel becomes a giant outdoor canvas and stage for the famous biblical story of King David through superior technology and powerful laser projection.
“For more than 2,000 years, there has been a symbolic connection between the site where the citadel stands today and King David. It is attested to in the writings of Yosef Ben Matityahu (Josephus Flavius), who described Herod’s palace and the impressive three-tower fortress built next to the palace as the Citadel of David because of its strength and magnificence,” says Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David Museum.
“There is no historical person more connected to Jerusalem than the biblical figure of King David. The Tower of David brings his timeless story to life using both cutting-edge technology and creativity to journey back in time to the days of the Bible, to travel through great works of art inspired by this poet and warrior and to celebrate him in a concert of music, color and light.”
David’s story is wonderfully suited to being the focus of an extraordinary new cinematic production, because his story, as articulated in the Bible, has all the hallmarks of a “blockbuster” film – a redhaired boy with beautiful eyes; a shepherd and a musician who became the hero who defeated the Philistine giant Goliath; a king of a nation, a poet and a lover.
The colossal King David multi-disciplinary production, boasting a talented cast of more than 50 actors, combines stunning film and animation, art and illustration together with an original and evocative sound track played on more than 40 instruments. It is a multinational production, with the artistic team based in Paris. Unleashing the sophisticated technology of powerful advanced laser projectors, the production illuminates the citadel with 250,000 lumens and 35 million pixels delivering vibrant colors and high definition images under the Jerusalem night sky. The trompe l’oeil effects and multisensory experience are made possible by mapped projected images using 18 laser projectors, 20 speakers and 10 kilometers of different types of cable.
“The movement and the sharpness of the laser technology bring the subjects to life in three dimensions, making the show that much more visually remarkable,” says Renee Sivan, concept creator and curator for King David.
One of the biggest challenges for the museum in creating King David was displaying the life of a leader from more than 3,000 years ago, despite there being no visual documentation from biblical Jerusalem. Sivan spent many months researching the persona of the much-loved king and decided to take the audience on a journey through the great works of art that tell his story.
David has been the inspiration for artists for centuries and is one of the most well-known biblical figures in the history of art. Great painters and sculptors captured this heroic figure, and ancient images of David in manuscripts and mosaics depict the story of Jerusalem’s king. The audience experiences an exciting virtual tour among the great works of art throughout the ages that immortalized the image of the celebrated King David.
“In the show we have dozens of works of art crossing all time periods and styles,” says Sivan.
“I chose a large variety of from well known artists, such as Chagall, Rembrandt, Matisse and Caravaggio, but we also took from Jewish and Christian medieval illuminations as well as Ethiopian representations. For example, the scene of the anointment of David by the Prophet Samuel is based on the well known Dura Europos Synagogue fresco, a synagogue from the third century CE that still exists in Syria. The representation of the Philistines is based on the famous Medinet Habu relief from the Late Bronze Age that was found in Egypt.”
The Tower of David Museum partnered with the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality to cover the NIS 7.5 million production cost for the new show. In addition to it being a major tourist attraction that will bring locals and tourists alike to the museum, King David is expected to serve as a boost to the Jaffa Gate commercial district, given all the additional foot traffic of close to 1,000 visitors a night.
Jacob of Jacob’s Pizza at the Jaffa Gate has been selling slices and pies for the last 10 years. He has already inquired as to the dates and times of the new shows, not only because he wants to see it, but because he has to increase production of his pizza pies.
“King David made this city into the center 3,000 years ago and here he is again bringing people from all over the world to Jerusalem – and this time they can eat my pizza!”