The City of David
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FAQ About the City of David
What is the City of David?
The City of David and the connected Jerusalem Archaeological Park (Davidson Center) are amazing archaeological excavations near the Western Wall Plaza that allow us to feel as if we have gone back in time to Ancient Jerusalem! In these sites you see what set Jerusalem apart from other cities as a key spiritual center for Jewish world and the world in general. These sites are family friendly, meaningful and a lot of fun! This is the most popular first stop for families touring in Jerusalem (ages 5 and up). Everyone will have such a great time, they will be asking for more tours! The full route which is a 4 hour action packed tour. It's possible to do shorter variations, although all options do include a good amount of stairs, walking, and tunnels. The City of David includes the "Pilgrim's Route" part of which was opened in June 2019 by Ambassador David Friedman and others. Parts of this route can already be walked on today, and the entire road from the Shiloach pool to the Temple Mount will be opened in a few years.
What Do We Do On The Tour?
We start with some views of Har HaZeitim (Mt. of Olives). There's an optional 15 minute 3D movie in English that's a must-see for kids under age 13. We will then see archaeological finds from David HaMelech's palace, homes from the time of the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple), over 2500 years ago! For this part of the tour, we have a game to engage kids ages 5 and up in the content of the tour.
Next, we enter the "secret passageway"to the water system and understand how David and his army conquered the city. Note: this part of the tour is a little dark and has some steep stairs/uneven areas as well as a winding staircase. Most people find it to be no problem. Next, we have a choice of 2 tunnels in the water system.
1) Easier Route: There is a Canaanite Tunnel from the time of Abraham which takes about 6 minutes to walk through. It's a little narrow in some places, but most people find it reasonable to do. The floor is paved and the ceiling is high. Tunnel is well-lit. After this tunnel, there are several flights of stairs to climb up to get back to the visitor center or to wait for others in the group. It’s also possible to walk to the bottom of the site to see the ancient Shiloach pool, and take a shuttle to the visitor center for 5 shekels pp. The dry Canaanite Tunnel is recommended for everyone for cooler seasons.
2) More Challenging Route: Hezkiyahu HaMelech's (King Hezekiah) water tunnel. This tunnel which is approximately 2,700 years old, is a highlight of a visit to Jerusalem for many people! It's a low and somewhat narrow - single file - tunnel. Anyone over 5 feet tall will need to bend for some parts of (10-20 minutes). Not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia or back problems. It takes 25 minutes minimum to walk through (can take longer if there is a large group ahead of us). Water is cool and refreshing (perfect in the hot summer), and depth of the water varies; it is 70 cm (about 2 1/2 feet) at its deepest point. If we do the water tunnel, we reach the ancient Shiloach pool and the original stairs the Olei Regel (pilgrims to Jerusalem) took to walk up to the Temple Mount when they came for the festivals – Passover, Shavuot and Succot. It's like walking into Jerusalem, a spiritual center of 2,000 years ago. From there, we take a shuttle (5 shekels pp) back to the visitor center.
After the water system, everyone will be ready for a short break. Bring snacks or you can buy at the snack shop there.
In the second part of the tour, we walk from an excavation that is currently underway (called the Givati Parking Lot Excavation) in the City of David through an underground tunnel to the corner of Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), to the "secret Western Wall." It's not under the Temple Mount itself; it's just below the sidewalk of ancient times leading towards the Temple (Beit HaMikdash). In this area, we get a clear understanding of the Temple Mount and its development from Mt. Moriah to the place where the Temple stood as well as the destruction in 70 CE. This site is a great preparation for visiting the Western Wall Plaza which is nearby.
This tunnel requires bending in a few places and it is narrow, but most people are fine walking through it. It’s about 5 1/2 feet high at its lowest point. It's lit, and takes about 5 minutes to walk through. If there are some in the group would would like to visit the Davidson center/Southern excavations, without walking through this the tunnel, let me know. Kids who do this need to be accompanied by an adult.
Where Do We Meet? What Time of Day is Best?
In a 4 hour tour, we will meet at one of the entrances to the Western Wall Plaza for a brief introduction and walk together to the City of David. When planning your day, keep in mind it can take up to 1/2 hour to walk through the Old City to the Wall or to take a taxi there. If you aren't yet familiar with the Old City, you might prefer a 6 hour tour, or you can take a taxi from your hotel to the Western Wall rather than trying to find your way. For 6 or 8 hour tours, we can decide together on the best meeting place and sites to include in addition to the City of David.
The City of David is a popular site, so an early start around 8:30 is ideal to avoid crowds. If it's too difficult to get your family organized and over to the meeting place to early, we can start later or consider an afternoon tour. In the hot summer, the area is wonderfully shady in the late afternoon, so starting at 2 pm after lunch can also work very well.
What Do We Need to Bring/Wear for the City of David?
Every tour day, you'll want to be ready to go with the following: comfortable walking shoes with good treads, a backpack, water, snacks just-in-case, sunhat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Tissues and hand sanitizer can always be useful for under-stocked bathrooms. You'll want to make sure your phone is fully charged to take pictures of all the amazing sites. An extra battery pack to charge devices can help ensure you won't miss out on any moments you would like to capture. If you will be visiting the Western Wall on this day, you will want modest clothes that cover shoulders and knees or a scarf put on over whatever you are wearing.
Here are additional items needed for the City of David:
Water shoes (Must have for water tunnel). It’s best to have shoes or water sandals that hold the foot and have good treads, not crocs or flipflops. Good walking shoes are also important for this tour.
Simple flashlights if you want to do the water tunnel. You can buy flashlights at the City of David for approx. 7 shekels each.
With the right clothes, it’s possible to tour the city of David even in the rain. Some areas are covered. If it's a cold, rainy winter day, you'll want umbrellas, waterproof shoes and rain jackets. For more information about what to pack for the weather, check out our FAQ page.
Some people like to put water sensitive items (like iphones) in Ziploc bags, but it's generally not necessary. Most people just put their backpacks high on their backs, and there's no problem. You can take a camera in the water tunnel – at your own risk. Waterproof pouches for phones can be purchased in advance of trip on Amazon. They also have lockers for 10 shekels if you want to lock up non-valuables (tell me before we head down to the water system).
What Does the Tour Cost?
Guiding fees are according to the length of the tour. Please see Jerusalem Tour page for details.
The entrance fees to the City of David are as follows. They can be paid by $US or shekels cash or credit card upon arrival to the site.
Please know the exact number of seniors, children etc in your group and who will be doing which parts of the tour, so the ticket buying will go as fast as possible. Seniors get discount if they also are eligible for a discount where they live. Students over 18 need to bring a student card for a discount. The National Park Membership card doesn’t apply to the entire entrance fee. We do not need to reserve in advance unless the group is larger than 15 people paying together or if we want to be extra sure to have a place during high season. If a reservation is necessary, I will need your credit card information to reserve.
Adults: 44 shekels which is approximately $12 for the special double site rate.
Seniors/Children (up to 18):
22 shekels which is approx $6 special rate.
5 shekels per person for the shuttle (cash at the bottom or can pay on arrival by credit card)
15 minute 3D Movie is 15 shekels per person, all ages.
(If the tour is only of the Upper City of David and doesn’t include the water system, the fees are slightly less, 30 shekels per adult and 16 per senior/child).
What Else is Important to Know?
1. These tunnels are not the same as the Western Wall Tunnels which is another amazing site. You can join a group tour there on your own, or I can guide a private tour for groups of 18 or more. It's best to do these tunnels on a separate day.
2. It’s possible to do a shorter version of this tour for those who prefer less walking or who have already done the water tunnel which includes the upper sections of the City of David and 2,000 year old tunnel to the Western Wall, without doing the other tunnels lower down on the site.
3. Tour involves a lot of walking, fun and sun. It’s hard to know how long the water tunnel will take, so sometimes the tour runs slightly longer than expected (no extra cost). Tour will be 4 – 4 ½ hours. It’s best not to make a lot of plans for that evening.
4. Click here for information groups of more than one family.
4. This tour can be done with kids ages 5 and up. It’s not possible to take a stroller or baby carrier through the tunnel. It’s also not possible to carry a child through the tunnel because they can bump their heads on the stone walls/ceiling. The site has a lot of stairs (some steep or winding), so all kids need to be able to do all the walking on their own without a stroller. For families with strollers or children under age 5 or if there are members of the group who are not able to do a lot of walking/stairs, I recommend touring in the Jewish Quarter or Western Wall Tunnels together with the Southern Excavations/Davidson center. Please see tour options for families with younger children.
5.Also be aware this is not the same site as the Tower of David.