David’s Citadel. Photo by Ardon Bar Hama.

Herod the Great built three towers in order to defend the city of Jerusalem and his own palace on Mt. Zion. The tallest was named for his brother Phasael and the other two were named for his wife Mariammne (whom he later murdered) and his friend Hippicus. Only the tower of Phasael is still standing today.

After the destruction of the Temple, the citadel served first as a barracks for Roman troops and later as a monastery. During the Arab period, the citadel was refurbished. After the Crusaders captured Jerusalem they 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.


David’s Citadel. Photo by Ardon Bar Hama.

The Ottomans rebuilt the citadel between 1537and 1541, adding an impressive entrance, a mosque and a minaret. The citadel housed Turkish troops. It was during this period that the citadel became known as the Tower of David.

General Allenby declared the capture of Jerusalem in front of the citadel. During the British Mandate, the citadel was used for cultural events. When the Old City fell to the Jordanians in 1948, they used the citadel as a military position.

Today the citadel houses the Tower of David Museum and hosts cultural events.

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