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Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple travel guide

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Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple

Jerusalem travel guide

A Journey following Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple

The Second Temple period, between 538 BCE and 70 CE is considered to be a time of Jerusalem’s glory. This is due to the magnificent castles and walls that were built in the city, especially towards the end of the 600 years, with the rise of King Herod. The temple, built in 516 BCE by the Jews returning to Zion after the Babylonian exile was the heart of the city till its destruction in 70 CE. Having said that, one must understand, that the political and social situation in those days was extremely complex, with so many different religious streams trying to get hold of the spiritual leadership in Jerusalem, it seems that the rip inside the Jews, was what inevitably brought to Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans. This suggested tour follows some of the archeological milestones of the time through the old city and its surroundings, which give light to the historical period and political background of the time as well.

Probably the best way to start off the journey would be by visiting the Model of Jerusalem in the late second Temple Period, located at the Israel Museum. The model, which is the size of 2,000 square meters at a 1:50 ratio, displays the entire city at that time from a birds view, showing off the temple and the roads and buildings surrounding it.

After having seen the model and understanding the destruction the city went through (by comparison to what’s left today) it’s time to go to the Old City. Entering through Jaffa gate, we will already be able to see parts of the Second temple’s time architecture. Originally believed to have been built by King David, the Tower of David situated at the entrance to the old city, was actually built during the time of the second temple by the Hashmonaim, as noted by Josephus Flavius, a historian who lived in the time of the great revolt. Later on it received a face lift and two more towers around it, as part of Herod’s plans of glorifying the city. After the destruction of the city once more, the ancient citadel continued to serve the Romans as barracks for their soldiers. Throughout the years, the tower had been destructed and reconstructed by many, yet still the lower layers of the tower and of the old wall, are genuine to the period.

Passing the tower, we head to the Jewish Quarter to the Wahl Museum of Archeology, also known as the Herodian Suburb. The museum depicts life in the time of the second temple in Jerusalem. Original mosaics, stone tools and various objects of art portray the high quality of life experienced at the time in the city. In order to complete the picture it’s recommended to continue to the excavated Burnt House, said to have been burned by the Romans, where you can watch a 12 minute audio–visual presentation about the political and social events which led to the house’s burning.

Ending the tour near the western wall, you can either choose to walk underground through the Western Wall Tunnels, where you can take a tour of the most ancient layers of the wall, or walk above ground in the area of The Archeological Garden of Jerusalem. There you can see the excavated Robinson’s Arch which once stood at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount as well as the old market street and the steps that used to lead to the temple up until 70 CE.

On the Seam - a unique boutique museum

On the Seam - a unique boutique museum

On the Seam is a unique boutique museum which exhibits the finest art from Israel and abroad by leading contemporary artists, and discusses social, gender-oriented, ethnic and geographical issues, while emphasizing what connects us rather than what keeps us apart. Past exhibitions at the Museum, which was described by the National Geographic as “a fascinating and unique museum”, have dealt with themes of human rights, animal rights, ecology and sustainability, and the place of the individual, among others, in modern world. The Museum, which was selected by the CNN as “one of Israel’s 10 best museums”, is located in a beautiful neo-classical building, built in 1932. During the years Jerusalem was divided (1948-1967), the house was turned into an Israeli military outpost situated on the border between Israel and Jordan, and was the only passage between the two parts of the divided city. During the battles of the 1967 war, the house suffered hits from shells and bullets that are apparent to this day. Address: Kheil ha-Handasa St 4, Jerusalem,

The Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City of Jerusalem

The Holiest City on Earth, surrounded by glorious walls, the Old City of Jerusalem (Yerushalayim in Hebrew, El-Quds in Arabic) is the highlight of the city, and the actual place where the mythologies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam occurred. Within its lively narrow alleys and colorful markets lie the major historical and religious sites of the world's three main religions, revealing the ancient history from the times of King David, Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad. It is the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount, the third holiest Muslim site, from where Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven on his Night Journey. The same spot, known as Mount Moriah, is where God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac, and on which King Solomon chose to build the First Temple. This is where the Western Wall, last remains of the Second Temple and most sacred Jewish site in the world, stands today. Not far from there lies the holiest Christian site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, held to be the location of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Israel from Joe Robinson on Vimeo. The Old City is divided into four quarters - the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter - each one comprises its own special shrines. Walking around the streets of the Old City you will not see any distinct separation between the four parts, but you might notice the cultural and architectural differences between them.

Wohl Archaeological Museum  Jerusalem

Wohl Archaeological Museum Jerusalem

The Wohl Archaeological Museum is located in the Herodian Quarter, which was considered the upscale, wealthy neighborhood in the city during the time of the Second Temple. The site was discovered during archaeological digs conducted in the Jewish Quarter between 1969-1983 and is considered the largest covered archaeological site in Israel. Six houses belonging to the Jerusalem elite were discovered there, most likely belonging to the ruling family during the Herodian Era (some 2,000 years ago). The findings - wells, mikvehs (ritual baths), mosaic-tiled floors and fresco - bear testament to the owners' wealth. Numerous rock tools and utensils were also found at the site. Address: 1 HaKaraim St., Jerusalem Jewish Quarter of the Old City Phone: 972-2-626-5906

Jerusalem - one of a kind
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