Tower of David museum opens after 3-year renovation

Jerusalem's iconic citadel has opened its revamped museum after a three-year, $50 million makeover that included a restoration of its signature minaret.

The Tower of David, the ancient fortress on the western edge of the Old City, contains remnants of successive fortifications built one atop the other dating back over two millennia. For centuries, pilgrims, conquerors and tourists visiting the city holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam have entered Jerusalem beneath the adjacent Jaffa Gate.

Today, the former castle serves as a museum dedicated to the city's 3,000-year history.

It is a daunting task for a museum condensed into around 1,000 square meters of gallery space, particularly due to its location in the Old City, the focal point of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a city of dueling narratives, the museum clearly veers toward the Israeli perspective.

The museum launched its overhaul in the midst of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, when foreign tourists could not enter Israel and visitor numbers had plummeted.

The project included archaeological excavations, rewiring, restoration and installation of new exhibits. The signature 400-year-old minaret underwent an extensive restoration to preserve its structural integrity.

The new entrance pavilion nearing completion realigns the museum's flow from the plaza outside the Jaffa Gate through the castle's interior, making the museum a "gateway to Jerusalem," said Eilat Lieber, the museum's director.

The museum's ambitious new permanent exhibitions - mixing multimedia displays with artifacts - have advanced the visitor experience to the 21st century, while a restored late 19th-century scale model of Jerusalem designed for the 1873 Vienna World's Fair...

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