When we travel abroad, we are drawn to the beautiful and monumental places in every city we visit. Jerusalem in the Second Temple period was one of the most beautiful cities in the world according to accounts at the time, and at the Archeological Garden – Davidson Center, we can admire the powerful construction of the city and its magnificence at that time and during other periods. This was one of the most important focal points of life in the city for generations, and in order to uncover it, around 350,000 cubic meters of earth were removed from the area during the archeological excavation process before the impressive remnants that you will see here were revealed!
The earliest finding on this site is a gate from the days of the First Temple, which was possibly built during the reign of King Solomon. Near the gate, two extremely important artifacts were found: the personal stamp seal of King Hezekiah who lived during the 8th century BC, and possibly also the personal stamp seal of the prophet Isiah from the same period. In the days of the Second Temple, King Herod built the majority of the Western Wall using stones whose length could reach almost 14 meters. It appears that after the death of King Herod, a massive road was paved from the Pool of Siloam in the City of David over to the Western Wall, from where they climbed to the Temple Mount using a monumental stone arch known today as “Robinson’s Arch”. This arch holds two world records in the ancient world – it is the oldest overpass in the world, and the largest stone overpass built in the Roman Empire. When visiting this street, don’t forget to take a peek at the staircase that leads below it – under your feet is a large rainwater drainage channel in which amazing artifacts were discovered: a golden bell which may have fallen off the coat of the High Priest, a Roman sword that perhaps suggests a fierce battle had taken place in this channel during the War of Destruction in the year 70 CE, and a clay stamp that appears to have sealed a container of offerings to the Temple.
After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, the street was covered by gigantic avalanche stones. Later, in the Byzantine period, multi-story lavish homes were built in the area and during the early Muslim period (in the Umayyad dynasty days), 4 monumental palaces were built, including an enormous bath house. A small bridge connected one of the palaces to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and who knows, maybe that was the palace where the Umayyad caliph stayed during his visits to Jerusalem. This palace, along with other Muslim palaces and entire cities were destroyed around 749 CE in a devastating earthquake that struck the country. While strolling around the site, don’t forget to visit the ancient mikvehs from the Second Temple period, the basements of the houses, the southern “Huldah Steps” that led to the “Huldah Gates” and the temple, plus a 1,300-year-old house in which a mysterious golden medallion was found, bearing the Temple Menorah and possibly also the earliest depiction of a Torah book. This artifact may be connected with the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem in the 7th century CE.
You will soon be able to finish (or start) your visit at the Davidson Center, which presents the story of the site and the story of ancient Jerusalem using advanced and innovative technologies. The museum’s exhibits were upgraded and fully transformed in 2021. When you enter the museum, note the ancient walls surrounding you, indicating that you are standing in the basements of the immense Umayyad palaces into which the museum has been tastefully incorporated.
Our recommendation: Go to the Huldah Steps, find a spot in the shade and close your eyes, disconnect from the sounds of the city surrounding you and imagine yourself in the days of the Second Temple, surrounded by the bustle of excited pilgrims from the Galilee, the Negev, Egypt, Iraq, Rome and Greece, bringing their sacrifices and offerings to the Temple and waiting to enter the Temple Mount via the Huldah Gates standing behind you on the Southern Wall.
*You must bring this ticket with you and present it at the entrance to the site.
*The ticket allows admission to the site, self-guided.
*Site address: Maalot HaRav Goren St, next door to the Dung Gate.
*Please take into account traffic in Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter in particular on Chol HaMoed days, and prepare accordingly.
*Cancellation terms: up to 3 business days before the visit, cancelling after this will be charged at the full price.
*Visits are subject to the guidance of the Ministry of Health.