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Holyland Model of Second Temple Jerusalem

To visualise Jerusalem of old at the peak of its power, look down on the outdoor scale model of the Holyland Model of Second Temple Jerusalem at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jaffa Gate

Covering 2000 square meters (21,500 square feet), this 50:1 scale model, covering nearly one acre, evokes ancient Jerusalem at its peak, meticulously recreating its topography and architectural character in 66 CE, the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans broke out, leading to the destruction of the Temple and the city in the year 70 CE.

King Herod’s Palace

The model, a Jerusalem cultural landmark, was originally built at the initiative of Holyland Hotel owner Hans Kroch in memory of his son Jacob, who fell in Israel’s War of Independence. Kroch argued that Israel in general, and in particular its capital Jerusalem – which was cut off from the Old City at the time – lacked a historical monument that could compare with the antiquities of Athens and Rome.

King David’s Tomb

In 1962, Kroch approached Michael Avi-Yonah, professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, commissioning Avi-Yonah to create the Model and provide its topographic and archaeological basis and architectural design. The model was opened to the general public in 1966, immediately becoming a popular attraction and educational site for Israelis and tourists alike.



Theater (lower right)
Theater (lower right)


The original model was designed and built by Michael Avi Yona, but has been adapted over the years according to further archeological discoveries and research carried out in the Old City of Jerusalem, based upon historical material – the Mishna, the Gemara, Josephus Flaviuse’s accounts. While some buildings were added and modified, other buildings and external walls of the city were removed from the model over the years. Due to the complexity of designing an accurate replica, constant academic debate encourages ongoing tweaks and changes to the model.


Hippodrome was removed. See empty space just south of Temple Mount
Hippodrome was removed. See empty space just south of Temple Mount

The model displays an accurate copy of the Jerusalem topography and geography, with public buildings displayed in vantage points situated upon hills and the many outbuildings and religious service venues located on and around the Temple Mount. In addition, the walls surrounding the city are accurately shown, incorporating the 90 watchtowers that were part of the original wall in the period.

City of David (Hasmonean Kings’ Palace,  Adiabene Palaces, First Temple Synagogue, Shiloah Pool)

In 2006 the Second Temple Model was transferred to the Israel Museum campus, where it offers a concrete illustration of the period documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, when Rabbinic Judaism took shape and Christianity was born. It was transported in 1000 pieces to its present site and is still referred to by many Jerusalem residents and tourists as the Holyland Model.

 Gates to the Temple Mount

Shechem Gate appears in the model but did not exist in reality.

Providing a vivid context for the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls and for many contemporaneous archaeological artifacts displayed throughout the Museum, the Model Illustrates one of the most formative periods in the history of the Jewish people, and bears a deep connection to the symbols of modern statehood that surround the Museum campus.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Grave

One feature which appears to lack archaeological basis is the red-tile roofing. Almost no roof tiles have been found in excavations of Jerusalem, however there are too many tiles in the model to make a change.

Northern City

Currently, the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period is one of Jerusalem’s most popular tourist attractions, allowing an as-the-bird-flies view of the ancient city and providing perspective to many of the stories in the Old and New Testaments. Visitors can walk around the various side of the model, gaining several views of the Old City and the Second Temple.

Temple Mount

[as it appeared at the Holyland Hotel]
Graphics: Holyland Corporation

1. Monument of Huldah 2. Palaces of helena Queen of Adiabene 3. Robinson’s Arch* 4. Synagogue of Freedmen 5. Pool of Siloam 6. Rose Gardens 7. Perfume Factories 8. Industrial Quarter 9. Buttressed Wall 10. Hippodrome 11. City Archives 12. Wilson’s Arch 13. Phasael Tower 14. Hippicus Tower 15. Mariamme Tower 16. Jaffa Gate* 17. Ginnoth Gate 18. Herods’ Palace 19. Upper Market 20. Hanania’s Palace 21. Hasmonean Palace 22. Xystus and Town Hall 23. Theatre 24. David’s Tomb 25. Palace of Caiaphas 26. Dyers’ Quarter 27. Traditional Calvary* 28. Hyrcanus’ Monument 29. Towers’ pool 30. Damascus Gate* 31. Wood Market 32. Psephinus Tower 33. Women’s Gate 34. Jannaeus’ Monument 35. Sheep Pool and Market 36. The Temple 37. Basilica 38. Tadi Gate 39. The Antonia 40. Wailing Wall 41. Huldah Gates *Modern Sites  Interactive Virtual Tour of the Second Temple Model The Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book are open: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs 10 am – 5 pm Tues 4 – 9 pm Fri and Holiday Eves 10 am – 2 pm Sat and Holidays 10 am – 5 pm From 28.5 – 27.8 Wed 10 am – 9 pm Tuesdays in August, 2014 10 am – 9 pm Tel.: 972-2-6708811 Visitors may walk around the model, though there is no protection from sun or rain. They are not allowed to walk inside the walls.

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