Glimpses of Israel - The Citadel

by Joseph H Hunting

Much of Jerusalem's history is written in the gigantic stones that were used by various builders during the city's three thousand year history. Although twice destroyed -- once by the Babylonians, and later by the Romans -- the city's stones continue to yield secrets from the past.

One of Jerusalem's landmarks is the Citadel located by the Jaffa Gate. It was once part of Herod's palace and a popular landmark is a minaret misnamed David's Tower. Herod built three towers that were part of the citadel in his day. They were named Mariamne (after the wife he murdered) Hippicus and Phasael. The bases of these towers still form part of the massive ramparts of the Citadel today.

The Citadel has served as army barracks for nearly two thousand years. Herod's soldiers were followed by the Romans under Titus. They were followed by the Moors, Saracens, Crusaders, Mamelukes and finally the Turks during the Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem. General Allenby used the steps of the Citadel just inside the Jaffa Gate when he announced the deliverance of the Holy City from Turkish control in November 1917.

Whilst much of the Citadel has now been excavated one never knows what new treasures from the past are waiting to be revealed. Excavations in the courtyard reveal relics of the occupation of the Citadel by the Tenth Roman Legion, and a massive wall built during the Hasmonean (Maccabean) period may be seen. And from the ramparts above one can gain a magnificent view of the Old City as well as the hustle and bustle of modern Jerusalem.