Iconic Tower of David to display new finds in major $40 million renewal

Jerusalem Mayor: Tower of David links Old City of Jerusalem to new city; and its renovation benefits the entire urban landscape

Work at the Tower of David on October 26, 2020. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Work at the Tower of David on October 26, 2020.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Tower of David Museum will undergo a massive upgrade and showcase new archaeological finds as part of a $40 million renewal and conservation plan for the iconic site at the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.
The initiative will be led by the Clore Israel Foundation together with the support of the City of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, and the Tourism Ministry. The Antiquities Authority is supervising the archaeological excavations and conservation of the project.
The Renewal and Conservation Project of the Tower of David Museum will preserve and conserve the historic citadel and archaeological park while doubling the current area of the museum to 20,000 square meters (more than 215,000 sq. feet) with a new sunken entrance visitor center, café, additional public bathrooms as well as seven new galleries, additional exhibition spaces and two elevators, making the ancient citadel accessible to all.
Work being done to renew the Tower of David. (Courtesy Tower of David)Work being done to renew the Tower of David. (Courtesy Tower of David)
A promenade lined with the archaeological findings from this site will take visitors from the new museum entrance to the educational complex and will also link to the car parks beneath the Mamilla Mall, across the street.
One of the most exciting discoveries in recent years was an abandoned Ottoman-era prison on the museum grounds.
Archaeologists excavated 10 meters into the earth and slowly uncovered the foundations of King Herod’s Palace, revealing 3,000 years of history along the way.
The Tower of David is building a new complex that will contain this site as well as a new gallery of art and antiquities. The gallery will introduce the visitor to the regal splendor of the court of King Herod in Jerusalem from 2,000 years ago. It will also provide the background and set the stage for an extraordinary multi-sensory experience that will take visitors on a quest for Herod’s Palace and will be developed within the actual “Kishle” excavations.
The Tower of David under renovation. (Courtesy Tower of David)The Tower of David under renovation. (Courtesy Tower of David)
Visitors will take an elevator from the gallery to the entrance of the excavations and walk down deeper into the earth, descending layer by layer through history. The story of Jerusalem and the quest for finding more information about King Hero through the integration of physical design and digital media.
Significant Roman-Byzantine excavations were discovered below the Jaffa Gate Plaza, the ancient entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, and were abandoned for more than a decade. The entire area has been annexed to the museum.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said that the Tower of David is one of the most important historic and archaeological heritage sites in the world. “The Tower of David, located at the Jaffa Gate, provides a link connecting the Old City of Jerusalem to the new city; and its renovation benefits the entire urban landscape for all lovers of Jerusalem and visitors from Israel and around the world,” he said.
The new entrance building is made of glass and Jerusalem stone and will contain an entrance lobby, ticketing area, cloak room and amenities. Because of the strict building code in Jerusalem that dictates that no building can rise higher than the city walls, the entrance to the building is partially submerged so as to blend with the historic surroundings.
The contemporary exhibition gallery will be located one floor below the lobby. A new café will be accessible from the entrance lobby with a terrace that provides views of both the Old and new cities. The new museum shop will be adjacent to the new building and accessible from both inside and outside the museum.
In 2019, more than 500,000 people visited the museum, generating income for 80% of the museum’s budget.