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Iconic Tower of David spire in Jerusalem is removed and repaired after fear of collapse

Restoration work on the Tower of David in Jerusalem's Old City, June 23. 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The top portion of the Tower of David, known as Jerusalem's Citadel, which marks the western Jaffa Gate into the Old City, was completely removed and rebuilt in recent months following fears it could collapse. The citadel, a significant historical and archaeological fortress, has been a symbol of Jerusalem for generations.

An Italian professor from the University of Padua, responsible for monitoring the “leaning” Tower of Pisa, issued Jerusalem the warning that the tower, with its pointed spire, was in dire need of attention.

In a video last year, Israel Antiquities Authority renovation expert Yossi Vaknin showed the top of the tower with swollen strips of iron, as well as cracked and broken stones.  

Despite several requests to postpone the repairs because of upcoming cultural and religious events, Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David Museum, told Israel’s Channel 12 news that “in the end, we said, ‘If we don’t fix the tower, and something happens on our watch, it’ll be a lot worse. … Let’s just get it done.’”

While the Tower of David complex is a first-century architectural effort attributed to King Herod, the spire slated for reconstruction is a 400-year-old mosque minaret added by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during an expansion project. Suleiman’s architectural investment also involved the restoration of the city walls.

The Tower of David in Jerusalem's Old City (Photo: Shutterstock)

Experts rebuilt the spire with a selection of original stones, as well as stones cut in a factory located in northern Israel's village of Shfaram. Vaknin told Channel 12 this would give the tower “a more authentic, more ancient appearance” than the concrete tip installed during the tower’s most recent reconstruction under the British Mandate.

The Times of Israel reported that a Muslim employee working on the spire said, “I’m proud of what I’m doing,” even while the reconstruction stirred up conspiracy theories on Arab social media falsely claiming that “the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jewish rulers, the enemy leadership is taking our story apart – the Muslim story.” 

Jerusalem’s Tower of David, which has the highest viewpoint of the Old City and a 360-degree panorama lookout, serves as a museum today. This permanent exhibition of Jerusalem's history has also been the site of archaeological discoveries, with exhibits displaying finds from the citadel’s courtyard and moat. 

The museum also maintains archaeological finds discovered beneath the Ottoman-era Kishle police station next to the citadel, including “significant remains of Herod’s palace, and the foundation of a wall built in the eighth century B.C. by King Hezekiah to protect the city from an Assyrian Assault,” according to archaeology expert and Israeli tour guide Danny Herman.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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