Visitors to Israel who desire an authentic Holy Land experience may need to look no further than The Davidson Center.
Built in 2001 within Jerusalem’s Old City, The Davidson Center museum and archaeological site can be found adjacent to the Western Wall, near the Dung Gate. It provides a unique perspective of what Jerusalem looked like in the late Second Temple Period, during the first century.
Blending modern architecture with ancient artifacts, illustrations, and interactive multimedia, visitors can learn about the history of Jerusalem, understand the architecture of the Old City walls, and see the remains of streets, columns, gates, walls, plazas, and a collection of Jewish ritual baths (mikva’ot).
One highlight of the tour is a real-time virtual reconstruction of the Temple Mount, reflecting how it appeared prior to its destruction by Roman soldiers in 70 AD. Visitors can walk down 2,000-year-old streets and see them come to life.
The now-exposed Southern wall and steps are a hallowed spot for visitors and pilgrims who want to experience a site where Jesus walked during His earthly ministry. During the time of Jesus, these stairs were used by everyone who came to worship at The Temple, and as they ascended these stairs, they chanted the Psalms of Ascents.
Visitors to Davidson Center can also view two short films that are continuously screened: “The History of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem” and “A Pilgrim’s Story” that simulates the experience of a Jewish pilgrim going to the Temple Mount in order to purchase a sheep for sacrifice.
Also of particular note is the Israel Antiquity Authority’s exhibit featuring a showcase of coins discovered at the base of the Temple Mount during excavations. Many of the coins date back over 2,000 years, and add to the rich and varied history of Jerusalem as a critical location for pilgrimages and religious quests alike. In addition, the differences between the Jewish coins and other ancient coins provide context for the cultural implications between them—notably, the Jewish prohibition against making a graven image is evident in the symbols used on the coins.
In total, a tour of The Davidson Center and the surrounding ruins takes approximately an hour and a half, and provides a beyond-words bonus for anyone who visits.