The Citadel (Tower of David), Jerusalem

The Citadel (Tower of David), Jerusalem (must see)

The Citadel adjacent to the Jaffa Gate has been carefully excavated, with each period of its development clearly delineated. Exploring the site, which offers free guided tours in English from Sunday to Friday at 11 AM, may take a couple of hours, particularly if you choose to delve into the museum inside, which narrates the story of Jerusalem and incorporates the archaeological site.

Positioned on the western hill of the Old City, the Citadel has been fortified by rulers of Jerusalem since the 2nd century BC, initially located at the city's northwestern corner and highest point. Herod the Great reinforced the original Hasmonean walls by adding three new towers, one of which, the Phasael, remains standing today. During the Byzantine period, the tower and the Citadel were erroneously identified as the Tower of David, as the Byzantines mistook the hill for Mount Zion, believed to be the site of King David's Palace.

Throughout history, the Citadel underwent various transformations under Muslim and Crusader rule, culminating in its present shape by 1310 under the Mamluk sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad. Suleiman the Magnificent later constructed a square with a monumental gateway in the east, while the prominent minaret, added between 1635 and 1655, became a landmark of Jerusalem.

From the Phasael Tower in the in the Citadel's northeast corner, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the excavations inside, the Old City outside, and the surrounding landscape to the south and west. Along the ascent, a terrace provides informative plaques identifying the different periods of the remains visible, including part of the Hasmonean city wall, a Roman cistern, and the ramparts of the Umayyad Citadel, which resisted the Crusaders in 1099.

Tip:
A spectacular 45-minute sound-and-light show takes place here every night, but make sure to book early, as it tends to sell out quickly.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Jerusalem. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

The Citadel (Tower of David) on Map

Sight Name: The Citadel (Tower of David)
Sight Location: Jerusalem, Israel (See walking tours in Jerusalem)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Jerusalem, Israel

Create Your Own Walk in Jerusalem

Create Your Own Walk in Jerusalem

Creating your own self-guided walk in Jerusalem is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Mount Scopus Walking Tour

Mount Scopus Walking Tour

Dotted with many sightseeing places, Mount Scopus – translating as the “Observation Mount” from Greek – is a great place to get views over the whole Old City of Jerusalem on a nice day. The mount has been of major strategic importance since Roman times, with forces setting up camp here prior to laying the siege that culminated in the final Roman victory over Jerusalem around 70 AD....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Mount Zion Walking Tour

Mount Zion Walking Tour

For those interested in religion and history, Mount Zion offers several unique sights that are situated in close proximity to each other. An important place for Christians, Jews as well as Muslims, it holds important constructions dating from the 20th century as well as a compound built by the Crusaders that marks the spot of both King David’s tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. How...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Bethlehem Walking Tour

Bethlehem Walking Tour

Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judaean Desert, Bethlehem has been known to the world, for more than two millennia, as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The “star of Bethlehem” as well as Christmas carols and hymns are firmly associated with this ancient city in the West Bank, Palestine, and thus, for some visitors, the bustle of a modern city may come as a surprise.

Undoubtedly, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

Entirely rebuilt in the 1980s after having been largely destroyed during the 1948 War, the Jewish Quarter is quite distinct from the rest of the Old City. Good signposting, spacious passageways, art galleries and a somewhat less buzzing atmosphere make the area a relaxing place to spend some time.

With its rebuilt residential buildings, some almost consider this area the "New...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Jerusalem City Gates Walking Tour

Jerusalem City Gates Walking Tour

Historians believe that the Old City of Jerusalem probably came into being more than 4,500 years ago. The defensive wall around it features a number of gates built on the order of the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the first half of the 16th century, each of which is an attraction in its own right. Until as recently as 1870, they were all closed from sunset to sunrise; nowadays, just...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Following Steps of Jesus Walking Tour

Following Steps of Jesus Walking Tour

Considered for centuries to be the center of the universe, Jerusalem is where the most famous figure in history, Jesus of Nazareth, fulfilled his divine mission by carrying a cross from the place of Pontius Pilate’s sentencing to Golgotha where he was crucified. This self-guided tour will retrace the steps of Jesus, allowing you to see what many consider some of the holiest places on our planet....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


16 Uniquely Israel Things to Buy in Jerusalem

16 Uniquely Israel Things to Buy in Jerusalem

Modern day Jerusalem is a mosaic of neighborhoods, reflecting different historical periods, cultures, and religions. The influx of repatriates in recent years has made the cultural and artisanal scene of the city even more colourful and diverse. To find your way through Jerusalem's intricate...