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One of the best ways to see Jerusalem is the Tower of David, a medieval citadel that houses an extensive museum on Jerusalem's history. While the name suggests a biblical connection, it is in fact a red herring first established in the Byzantine era. Muslims and members of the church both mistakenly attributed the Tower of Phasael from King Herod's era to David. Westerners further misconstrued ancient script by identifying a Turkish minaret from a mosque as the actual Tower of David, thereby resulting in its current designation as the tower. Yet, whatever tourists choose to call it, the citadel is a perfect physical and symbolic introduction to the city, both for its museum as well as its location near the Old City's historic entrance.
The permanent exhibition starts with the oldest evidence of Jerusalem's existence, which dates back to the second Millennium B.C., and ends with the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition to historical overviews, the museum is also home to constantly rotating temporary exhibitions covering both art and history. Past displays include a fashion design exhibition based on clothing of Jerusalem women throughout history, industrial design inspired by the city and a retrospective of Kaiser Wilhelm II's 1898 historic visit.
Come spring, travelers will also be able to see the development of medicine in the city throughout history. The exhibit will extend beyond the walls of the tower, as patrons follow a trail through the city that highlights the communal aspect of medicine in centuries past. Important stopping points include the Franciscan monastery, which was the first pharmacy in Jerusalem, and the Marienstift Kinderhospital - the first children's hospital in Asia, according to the museum's website.
Getting a view
These excursions from the citadel provide an intimate look of the city. Yet, part of what makes the Tower of David such a worthy destination is the grand view it provides its visitors. A hike up tower steps reveals a panorama across both the Old and New City, as well as the Four Quarters, the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus. The Judean Desert stretches beyond, with the Dead Sea far and away, but just visible.
Years to come
Trumpets supposedly brought down the walls of Jericho, but in Jerusalem, the culprit may just be earthquakes. Some of the world's most important geopolitical sites have been shaken by seismic activity over the years, prompting the Israeli government to take preventive measures against any potential damage, according to The Associated Press. Even so, travelers who have always wanted to visit the Holy Land may want to go now while those sites remain standing.
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