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Curious what backpackers do in Palestine? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Under tower where Hared met wise men, by tradition.

    The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BCE and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt throughout the years by the Christian, Muslim, Mameluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years, and is a popular venue for benefit events, craft shows, concerts, and sound-and-light performances.

    The name "Tower of David" was first used by the Byzantine Christians who believed the site to be the palace of King David.


    During the 2nd century BC, the Old City of Jerusalem expanded onto the so-called Western Hill. This 773-meter-high prominence, which comprises the modern Armenian and Jewish Quarters as well as Mount Zion, was bounded by steep valleys on all sides except for its northwest corner. After King David and his son the legendary King Solomon's initial fortifications, King Hezekiah may have been the first to specifically fortify this area. Centuries later, the Hasmonean kings surrounded the area with an impressive wall and large watchtowers, which 1st century historian Josephus Flavius refers to as the First Wall.

    Herod, who assumed power after the fall of the Hasmonean dynasty, added three massive towers to the fortifications in 37-34 BC. He built these at the vulnerable northwest corner of the Western Hill, where the Tower of David is now located. His purpose was not only to defend the city, but to safeguard his own royal palace located nearby on Mount Zion. Herod named the tallest of the towers, 145 feet in height, thePhasael in memory of his brother who had committed suicide (or so it was reported). Another tower was called the Miriam, named for his second wife whom he had executed and buried in a cave to the west of the tower. He named the third tower the Hippicus after one of his friends. Of the three towers, only the Phasael still stands today.

    Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, the site served as barracks for the Roman troops. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the imperial religion in the 4th century, a community of monks established itself in the citadel.

    After the Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE, the new Muslim rulers refurbished the citadel. This powerful structure withstood the assault of the Crusaders in 1099 CE, and surrendered only when its defenders were guaranteed safe passage out of the city.

    During the Crusader period, thousands of pilgrims undertook the pilgrimage to Jerusalem by way of the port at Jaffa. To protect pilgrims from the menace of highway robbers, the Crusaders built a tower surrounded by a moat atop the citadel, and posted lookouts to guard the road to Jaffa. The citadel also served as the seat of the Crusader kings of Jerusalem.

    In 1187, Sultan Saladin captured the city and the site. The Mameluks destroyed it in 1260 CE and later rebuilt it. The citadel was rebuilt yet again between 1537 and 1541 by the Ottomans, who designed an impressive entrance, behind which stood a cannon emplacement. For 400 years, the citadel served as a garrison for Turkish troops. The Ottomans also installed a mosque at the site and added the minaret, which still stands today. It was during this time that the complex began to be called the "Tower of David", after the founder-king of Jerusalem.

    During World War I, British forces under General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem. General Allenby formally proclaimed the capture standing on a platform outside the entrance to the Tower of David.

    During the period of the British Mandate (1917-1948), the British High Commissioner established the Pro-Jerusalem Society to protect the city's cultural heritage. This organization cleaned and renovated the citadel and reopened it to the public as a venue for concerts, benefit events and exhibitions by local artists. In the 1930s, a museum of Palestinian folklore was opened in the citadel, displaying traditional crafts and clothing.

    Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab Legion captured Jerusalem and converted the citadel back to its historical role as a military position, as it commanded a dominant view across the armistice line into Jewish Jerusalem. With the Israeli victory of 1967 after the Six-Day War, the citadel's cultural role was revived.

    Tower of David Museum

    The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem was opened in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation. Located in a series of chambers in the original citadel, the museum includes a courtyard containing archeological ruins dating back 2,700 years. The exhibits depict 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history, from its beginnings as a Canaanite city to modern times. Using maps, videotapes, holograms, drawings and models, the exhibit rooms each depict Jerusalem under its various rulers. Visitors may also ascend to the ramparts, which command a 360-degree view of the Old City and New City of Jerusalem. As of 2002, the Jerusalem Foundation reported that over 3.5 million visitors had toured the museum.

    David's Tower or David's Citadel should not be confused with the City of David and Hezekiah's Tunnel or with the five star hotel of the same name nearby. The Tower of David is a museum set in the restored citadel.
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  • The Ophel or Ophlas, meaning fortified hill or risen area, is the biblical name given to a certain part of a settlement or city that is elevated from its surroundings. In the Bible the Ophel refers to the elevation of two cities: the City of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, and at Samaria, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel. The term "ophel" is equivalent to the Greek term "acropolis".Read more

  • The Garden of Gethsemane

    Left of the Tomb of the Virgin in Jerusalem is a passage leading to the Grotto of the Agony, then immediately south is the Garden of Gethsemane with its eight ancient olive-trees. Next to the Garden is the Church of All Nations. (D)

    The Modern Grotto of Gethsemane (the Oil Press)

    Inside the cave are an impressive stone vault and three altars with murals over them. Over the high altar there is Jesus Praying among the Apostles, while the paintings over the side altars depict the Assumption of the Virgin and the Kiss of Judas.

    In spite of some renovations carried out in the late fifties of the last century, of all the many holy places in Jerusalem the Grotto of Gethsemane has best conserved its original appearance, that is, the appearance it had at the time of Christ's life on earth. (W)
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  • Bethlehem
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    Bethlehem is now a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 8 kilometers (5 mi) south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism. The Hebrew Bible identifies Beit Lehem as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, though the size of the community has shrunk due to pressures from Muslims and subsequent emigration.

    The city was sacked by the Samaritans in 529 BCE, during their revolt, but was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab in 637 BCE, who guaranteed safety for the city's religious shrines. In 1099 BCE, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamlukes in 1250 BCE, the city's walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

    The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.

    Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Bethlehem agglomeration includes the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, as well as the refugee camps of 'Aida and Azza. Bethlehem's chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops. Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance just outside of Bethlehem. (W)
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  • The Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom.

  • We had the opportunity to tour the oldest inhibited city in the world, Jericho. Here we were able to visit the exact location, the Mount of Temptation, where the Devil tempted Jesus during his 40 day fast. This was also the area where Jesus passed through Jericho where he healed blind beggars and inspired the tax collector named Zacchaeus, who was sitting up in a sycamore tree, to repent his dishonest practices. Oh, and I had the opportunity to ride a camel...when in Jericho...ride as the people of Jericho do. Ha. :)Read more

  • We ended our day yesterday with visiting three moving sites. We were able to visit the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. Tradition tells us that this church is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, "fell asleep". Nearby we went to visit the Upper Room on Mt. Zion. The Upper Room is where Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Last Supper, and where Jesus appeared to His disciples after His Death and Resurrection. Finally, we walked down the street to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. This church commemorates where Jesus was examined and eventually imprisoned before the council in Jerusalem. It also commemorates Peter's denial of Christ, Peter's repentance, and Jesus' forgiveness of Peter.Read more

  • We started our morning in Bethany which was the site where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Here we celebrated Mass in a medieval chapel next to the church of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. After Mass, we headed to the Jordan River where we renewed our Baptismal promises. Next, we headed down to the Jordan Valley to Qumran. This town is made up of 2000-year-old ruins from the days of the second temple, and also the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and discovered. After visiting the first cave where the first Scrolls were found, we headed down the valley to the Dead Sea. It is the lowest place on earth. 1,378 feet below sea level to be exact! We enjoyed taking mud baths and floating in the saltiest water in the world. We ended our day with a walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I feared no evil!Read more

  • Wow, we saved the best for last. The high point of this pilgrimage was honoring the Passion of Christ and walking the Via Dolorosa, the way of Sorrows, which is the route Jesus walked on his way to Calvary. The last 5 stations of the 14 stations are in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is the site of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. We celebrated Mass in front of Jesus' tomb and then were able to go into it and touch the stone on which he was laid upon. Nearby, was Calvary. We climbed up a steep hill, Golgotha rock, and touched the top where Jesus suffered and died for us.Read more

  • Our very last stop on the pilgrimage was at the Church of Saint Anne's, the home of Jesus' grandparents, Anne and Joachim. It is also home to the Pool of Bethesda. It was there that Jesus healed the crippled man. John 5:1-18. We then took a stroll around the Old City to get back to our hotel.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Palestine, Palästinensische Autonomiegebiete, Palestina, Palestaen West Bank ne Gaza, የፍልስጤም ግዛት, فلسطين, Fələstin Bölqüsü, Палестынскія тэрыторыі, Палестински територии, Palesitini, ফিলিস্তিন অঞ্চল, Tiriadoù Palestina, Palestinska Teritorija, Palestinská území, Tiriogaeth Palesteina, De palæstinensiske områder, པེ་ལིསི་ཊི་ནིཡ ན་ཊེ་རི་ངོ་རི, Palestinia nutome, Παλαιστινιακά Εδάφη, Territorios Palestinos, Palestiina ala, سرزمین‌های فلسطینی, Palestiin Sisjordani e Gaasaa, Palestiina, Palestinskt territorium, Territoire palestinien, Na Críocha Pailistíneacha, પેલેસ્ટિનિયન ટેરિટરી, Palasɗinu, השטחים הפלסטיניים, फ़िलिस्तीन, Palestinsko Područje, Palesztin Terület, Otoritas Palestina, Palestína, パレスチナ, პალესტინის ტერიტორია, Ukingo wa Magharibi na Ukanda wa Gaza wa Palestina, ប៉ាលេស្ទីន, ಪ್ಯಾಲಿಸ್ಟೇನಿಯನ್ ಪ್ರದೇಶ, 팔레스타인 지구, فەلەستین, Palesitayini, Palɛsine, Palestinos teritorija, Palesine, Palestīna, പാലസ്തീന്‍ പ്രദേശങ്ങള്‍, पॅलेस्टिनी प्रदेश, Palestinian Territory, ပါလက်စတိုင်း ပိုင်နက်, Palestinsk territorium, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, प्यालेस्टनी भू-भाग, Palestijnse gebieden, ପାଲେସ୍ତେନିଆ, Terytoria Palestyńskie, فلسطین, Territórios palestinos, Territori Palestinais, Palesitina Wesitibanka na Gaza, Teritoriul Palestinian, Палестинские территории, Sêse tî Palestîni, පලස්තීනය, Palestínske územie, Palestinsko ozemlje, Falastiin Daanka galbeed iyo Qasa, Палестинске територије, Palestinska territoriet, பாலஸ்தீனியன் மாஹாணங்கள், పాలిస్తినియాన్ ప్రాంతం, ปาเลสไตน์, Potu Palesitaine, Filistin Bölgesi, Палестина, فلسطینی خطے, Lãnh thổ Palestine, Orílẹ́ède Iwọorun Pakisitian ati Gaṣa, 巴勒斯坦领土, i-Palestinian Territories