Tower Of David guide starts with the basics (hours, prices, exhibits), and then we tour the site (including Night Spectacular). Let’s begin!
Note: I took the featured photo during Jerusalem Festival Of Light. If you are visiting on a regular day, there will be no light sphere (that appears in the center of the picture).
What Is Another Name for the Tower of David?
Sometimes the Tower Of David is also called Jerusalem Citadel. So if you see “Jerusalem Citadel,” or simply The Citadel in my blog, then you know that I refer to the Tower Of David.
Tower Of David is located near Jaffa Gate. And as you enter through Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem you continue walking along the Jerusalem Citadel wall till you see the entrance.
Map of the area:
Note: you can click on the image to enlarge it.
On the map above, the Tower of David is marked as #63, and it is in the square J4.
And if you are interested in the Tower of David’s Museum Map and suggested route, then check this resource.
Night experiences or as many people call them light shows, take place in the evenings. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and you can do it on-site, or through the official website. The opening hours that I am listing in this section are the Museum opening hours.
Sunday – Thursday: 09:00 – 16:00 (till 17:00 in August)
Friday and Holiday Eve: 09:00 – 14:00
Saturday and Holidays: 09:00 – 16:00 (till 17:00 in August)
There are three types of tickets. You can purchase tickets for the museum, for a night experience, or a combo ticket for both.
|Museum-Only||Night Experience||Combined Ticket (Museum + Night Experience)|
|Adult||40 NIS||65 NIS||80 NIS|
|Student||30 NIS||60 NIS||65 NIS|
|Child (up to 18)||18 NIS||55 NIS||65 NIS|
If you are interested in a high viewpoint, from which you can see the panorama of the Old City of Jerusalem and surrounding neighborhoods, then you can purchase a dedicated ticket. The entrance fee to the observation tower is 15 NIS. And since I mentioned viewpoints, another good one inside the Old City can be found at the Church Of The Redeemer.
There are also discounted tickets for seniors, the disabled, and soldiers. Additionally, there are VIP night tickets. You can find additional information at the official website.
Different credit card companies offer discounts to Tower Of David. For example, MAX allows 1+1, and Cal offers various discounts. Moreover, at cpnclub.co.il you can purchase tickets at 12-15% discounts.
There are different guided tours for individuals. These tours take you through the permanent exhibition. Here is what currently available:
Jerusalem through the Ages
- English: Sundays to Thursdays at 11:00
- Hebrew: Tuesday at 10:30
Please note: in the event that there is no escort guide, visitors will be given complimentary audio guides.
Tours are not available on holidays and holiday eves.
The Mount Exhibition Guided tour (Starts in April)
- English: Monday, 9:30 am, Thursday, 1:30 pm
- Hebrew: Tuesday, 1:30 pm, Friday, 9:30 am
From Herod’s Palace to British Prison
A tour of the Citadel Moat and the Kishle
English: Fridays at 10:00
Hebrew: Thursdays at 10:30
(+5 NIS from adult ticket price)
Tours are included in the admission fee.
Note: opening hours, tickets prices, and guided tours information were updated on July 2019. In any case, recheck the official website before visiting.
Tower Of David view from the Southern Ramparts Walk:
If you are not joining guided tours, then you can download a free audio guide in advance.
The Tower of David audio guide takes visitors on a journey through the Citadel and the permanent exhibition, highlighting the history of Jerusalem and the story of the Museum. There are 35 different stations in this self-guided tour. The tour lasts between 60 to 90 minutes, and personal audio players can be rented at the Museum reception desk.
You can also download the Museum audio guide for free directly to your mp3 player (or desktop) to enjoy now and on your next visit to the Museum. Once you have downloaded the tour, click on the number corresponding to the display marked in the Museum, and enjoy.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
Though we know this place today as the Tower of David, there is no connection to King David. It was an identification mistake.
Jerusalem’s Citadel, known as the ”Tower of David,” is a historical and archaeological asset of international significance. The Citadel is a medieval fortress with architectural additions from later periods. It is located near the Jaffa Gate, the historical entrance to the city and the point where the East meets the West. It bears cultural and architectural values and has been the symbol of the city of Jerusalem for generations.
The Origin of the Name: Despite being called the Tower of David, the citadel has no connection to King David. The roots of this mistake date back to the Byzantine period, when early Church fathers misinterpreted Josephus Flavius’ writings and attributed a tower from the time of Herod (the Tower of Phasael) to King David. The Muslims also associated the Herodian tower with King David and called it mihrab Nabi Daud (the prayer niche of the prophet David). In the 19th century, when Westerners arrived in the city looking for physical evidence of the scriptures, the Turkish minaret added to the Mamluk mosque was mistakenly identified as the Tower of David. It was then that the misnomer for the Herodian Phasael Tower was transferred to the Turkish minaret and it received the name the Tower of David.
The Museum presents Jerusalem’s story. It details the major events in its history, beginning with the first evidence of a city in Jerusalem in the second millennium BCE until the city became the capital of the State of Israel. Through the history of the city, visitors discover its significance to the three largest monotheistic religions. The permanent exhibition illustrates the city’s history along the axis of time using models, dioramas, film and includes explanations in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
The Citadel itself is a fascinating archaeological site. The finds uncovered within are a testimony to Jerusalem’s eventful past and produce a representation of Jerusalem and its various historical periods in microcosm. The Citadel’s towers offer a 360-degree view of the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the city’s modern areas.
In addition to being a museum of history, the Tower of David has become the platform for the contemporary expression in the city of Jerusalem. The museum stages temporary exhibitions which integrate the unique location and majesty of the ancient Citadel and its history with a contemporary presentation of artistic and historical issues. The museum also hosts lectures and special events in music, dance, and drama as well as dozens of educational activities and programs.
And as in every museum, there are permanent and changing exhibitions.
The Tower of David is a historical museum which presents the story of Jerusalem using diverse illustrative techniques. The exhibit is located in the medieval guardrooms of Jerusalem’s citadel and stands at the entrance to the Old City.
The exhibition presents the main events of the city’s history in chronological sequence, beginning with the first evidence of the existence of a town in the second millennium BCE and ending with Jerusalem becoming the capital of the State of Israel.
Different periods of history and selected items from the exhibition rooms are presented on each page.
Note: my last visit to the Tower of David Museum was more than a decade ago. Back then, I was not into photography. But I was able to salvage several photos that were taken with a compact camera. And wanted to show them, so that you will have a better picture.
Photo of an aluminum model of the Citadel, at 1:100 scale.
As you go through the Citadel’s rooms, you see the history and the evolution of Jerusalem. These are the main periods:
- Canaanite Period (3200 BCE)
- First Temple Period (1006 BCE)
- Second Temple Period (515 BCE)
- Roman Period (63)
- Byzantine Period (324)
- Muslim Period (638)
- Crusader Period (1099)
- Ayyubid Period (1187)
- Mamluk Period (1260)
- Ottoman Period (1517)
- British rule – State of Israel (1917)
View from one of the viewpoints:
How Much Time A Visit To Tower Of David Takes?
The audio guide tour lasts 1 – 1.5 hours. And according to Google: “People typically spend up to 3 hours here”. Thus, a typical visit to the museum will take 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
Night Experiences – Light Show
Currently, there are two different night experiences. They are the Night Spectacular and King David.
Note: the official name is Night Experiences, but many people refer to it as Light Show.
The night shows at the Tower of David envelop you in a multi-sensory experience that combines the past and the present using the most advanced technologies in the world. Powerful laser projectors accompanied by high-quality sound combine to create a magical moment.
The walls of the citadel serve as a backdrop for the night performances and present a celebration of sights and sounds. Screened among the archeological remains in the Citadel courtyard and to the sounds of original music, the story of the city of Jerusalem – in the Night Spectacular, and the story of KING DAVID in the King David show, come to life with breathtaking giant images.
The night performances use the art technique of Trompe-l’œil to create an illusion whereby the giant stones and structures of the citadel transform into images that surround the viewer in a singular sensory experience. Innovative techniques and a sophisticated computer system that operates 20 projectors, 10 video players, 14 computers and 14 speakers are joined by 10 kilometers of cable and two screening rooms.
The Night Spectacular and the KING DAVID show are for everyone – Israelis and tourists, families, speakers of all languages – and all lovers of Jerusalem!
Recently we visited Night Spectacular, and now I am going to tell you about our experience.
Mahane Yehuda Market
At the beginning of last week, I bought tickets online (at the official website) for the Night Spectacular at the Tower of David. At the moment of the purchase, in most evenings (during working days) there were two shows, the first one at 20:30 and the second one at 21:30. We bought tickets for the first Night Spectacular on Thursday.
But before the Night Spectacular, we wanted to visit one more place. So let’s start from the beginning.
As usual, we parked at Giv’at HaTahmoshet (Ammunition Hill). It is a park and ride site (free parking). And from there we took the light train to Mahane Yehuda Market. One of the reasons we went to Mahane Yehuda Market is Khachapuri. Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread. My wife lived in Georgia during part of her childhood and loves Khachapuri.
Note: you might wonder why I included the following information about Mahane Yehuda Market at Tower Of David post. If you purchase a combo ticket, you will have at least several hours between the museum closure and the light show. Thus, a visit to the market or Triangle area can be a good option.
Unfortunately, the Georgian restaurant named Hachapuria was closed. But when walking on the main street of Mahane Yehuda, we saw Khachapuri sign. So we entered this bakery. There was a baker who could prepare you whatever you wished. We ordered two Khachapuri.
Note: though it was closed on that instance, I visited Hachapuria and Mahane Yehuda Market market many times. And you can use my full guide to Mahane Yehuda Market to find other restaurants and other useful information.
While sitting on the veranda of the bakery I took several photos. Another bakery on the opposite side:
This is my Khachapuri:
I took the classical one. It is in the form of a boat and filled with different cheeses and an egg. First, you take an outer piece of the bread and mix all cheeses and the egg. Then you take parts of the boat and dip them in the center. And my wife ordered without an egg, and the result very much resembled a round personal pizza.
After hanging out at the market, we started to make our way towards the Old City. We decided to walk (it is about 20 min walk).
Downtown Triangle Area
Another option for the downtime is a visit to the Triangle Area.
You probably saw a photo of these umbrellas from Jerusalem:
In Downtown Triangle area (The Downtown Triangle is a central commercial and entertainment district in Jerusalem. The area is bounded by Jaffa Road on the north, King George Street, and Ben Yehuda Street) and surrounding neighborhoods, many streets were decorated. And each street has a different hanging decoration. Here is another one:
I have been to Mamilla many times, but this is the first time I noticed there is a monastery in the middle of Mamilla.
Night Spectacular At The Tower Of David
Here we reached Tower of David (just outside Jaffa Gate):
As I mentioned earlier, we had the 20:30 tickets for the Night Spectacular at Tower of David. On the ticket, there was a remark saying that we should be at 20:10 at the entrance. As you can see, at 20:10, we were among the only ones there.
But at 20:35, just before they opened the gate you could barely find a free spot.
Out ticket was for 20:30 and the next show was at 21:30, which means that we could be there for max 50 min. As they told us we had 20 min for walking through the Tower of David and another 25 min for the show. But since they opened after 20:30 (I do not understand why they could not open at 20:10 as the ticket said) and the line took 10-15 min, many people walked straight to the sitting places for the Night Spectacular.
We walked through the Tower of David. But there was not much to see. Besides the general lighting, there were several places with light animations and several corners that were lighted. And that is it. It was quite disappointing.
Statue of David with the Head of Goliath:
Here is a photo of one of the animations at which two people are playing chess.
The walkthrough Tower of David took us about 10 min, and we took our places.
We were asked not to photograph/take video during the Night Spectacular. Thus I do not have anything (mine) to show from the show itself. But I can say that we enjoyed it. It was a 20 min movie projected on the inner walls. The film briefly tells the story of Jerusalem, starting from The Book of Genesis and the creating of the world. Then you could see the construction of Jerusalem, Babylonian Exile until modern days.
The animation does not have any narration, thus the better you know history, the more you will understand. Therefore, preferably visit the museum before the night show.
Tip: consider bringing something warm to the show, as it might be chilly in the evening.
Here is the official video:
I took this photo after the show so that you could see on which walls the main part of the show is projected:
Regarding seating places, I do not think there are any best or worst ones except maybe the seats that are too close to the walls.
As the Night Spectacular ended, we were rushed out through the back exit since the next group was about to enter.
Tower of David from outside:
Back to Downtown Triangle Area
Afterward, we went back to Downtown Triangle area to hang out a little more. There were many different stands, street performers, and food stalls. I also had the opportunity to photograph a little more 🙂
Long exposure of the light train:
And here is another street with hanging decorations:
It was getting quite late, and at this stage, we took the tram back to Giv’at HaTahmoshet.
Tower Of David is a history museum, specifically about the history of Jerusalem. If you love history and archeology, then I would recommend this museum to you. Besides having a wide range of exhibits, it also shows everything in chronological order (which makes it easier for most people).
Moreover, Night Experiences at the Tower of David is a lovely addition, and if you have not been to either, then consider purchasing the combo tickets.
Have you been to the Tower Of David? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Jerusalem page.
Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.
And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.