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Ariel – Center for the History of the First Temple

The Ariel center is unique in that it focuses on the study of Jerusalem during the First Temple period.

First Temple Jerusalem

Some 3000 years ago, King David made Jerusalem his capital. Solomon, his son, expanded the city and built the Temple to God.

The building of this, the First Temple, is reported to have been started in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, and to have taken seven years to complete. As the central place of worship in the country, it was in use for four centuries. Its fame among the nations of the region rested on the splendor of its outer appearance and its inner appointments, and on the holy ark of the covenant which it housed. The Temple was located near the royal palace and enjoyed royal patronage. In 586 BCE, it was destroyed by the Babylonians.

Model of First Temple Jerusalem

A new model showing Jerusalem towards the end of the First Temple period has been installed at the centre. From a bird’s-eye view, the visitor can examine the city’s size, the width of the ramparts and gates, to view the Temple and King’s palace, generally to instill a sensation of actually walking through the streets and alleys of the city. Built under the auspices of Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, is located in an unassuming house in the heart of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. Planned as an educational tool to teach the history of Jerusalem, the model is scaled at about 1:250 and covers a surface of 35 square meters. Miniature replicas of stone structures, as well as of the fortified wall, were constructed on the basis of archeological evidence. Archeologist Dan Bahat, an expert on Jerusalem, is the scientific adviser for the model.

Multimedia Exhibit

A new and enthralling multimedia exhibit has been installed next to the model. The presentation portrays an artist attempting to create his life’s work by painting Jerusalem. He longs to capture Jerusalem’s individuality with his paintbrush, to enlighten the city’s secrets with his paints. On his expedition, he encounters characters and events that have left their mark on the generations. Magnificent animations escort the artist on his quest to find spirit embedded in matter.

The sound and light show is screened several times daily in Hebrew, English, French and Russian; by using special glasses, the viewer embarks on a three-dimensional “tour” of the sites of biblical Jerusalem. Particular emphasis is placed here on the well-planned water systems carved out of rock during the rule of the Kings of Judah. In his trip into the past, the viewer learns about the conquest of Jerusalem by King David three millennia ago, the construction of the Temple, the cutting of the Siloam Tunnel (to safeguard the city’s water supply) and the horrors of the Babylonian siege and conquest in the sixth century BCE.

Other Exhibits

Other exhibits in the center include: A permanent exhibition of artifacts illustrating everyday life in Jerusalem during the First Temple period – models, displays and reproductions of archeological findings such as Sennacherib’s sawmill, the Siloam inscription, a silver plaque engraved with the Priests’ blessing, a burial cave, jewelry and more.

“Bird in a Cage” – the story of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, the drama that determined the city’s destiny, its character and its status for thousands of years. The Assyrian relief maps, the Bible verses, the official reports of the Assyrian king and the archeological findings join together to paint a full and fascinating picture of that epoch. In addition, a portion of Hezekiah’s tunnel has been restored in the centre.

Tourist Info

It is located at the corner of Pelugat HaKotel St and Bonei HaHomah St, Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

The Ariel center is open Sundays through Thursdays, from 9 AM to 4 PM.

There is an entrance fee.

It is advised to coordinate your visit in advance at: 02-6286288

Ancient Hebrew on Israeli Shekel coin
Ancient Hebrew on Israeli Shekel coin

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