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A Walk in the City of David
This walk-through-time adventure is a heady combination of mysterious tunnels and ancient remains. The climax is wading through the 2,700-year-old Hezekiah's Tunnel, though there is a dry exit from the site for nonwaders. (Note that the water is below the knees for most of the tunnel but thigh deep for the first few minutes: wear appropriate clothing and water shoes or sandals. Bring a flashlight or buy a little one with your ticket (NIS 4). The wade is not recommended for very small children.) Plan 1½ hours for the walk, and an additional 30 to 40 minutes to wade the tunnel. You can tour the sites on your own or pay extra to join a guided tour.
A platform at the City of David Visitors Center gives a fine view of the Kidron Valley, which drops sharply to the east, and gave ancient Jerusalem its best protection. Steps descend to the excavation site Area G, and from there halfway down the hill to Warren's Shaft (small sign on the right). One level down are blown-up photographs of remarkable clay seals unearthed in Area G. A tunnel slopes down to the top of a shaft that drops 40 feet to the Gihon Spring. Conventional wisdom identifies this as the point where King David's commandos penetrated the city in 1000 BC, but recent excavations near the spring have suggested the story took place elsewhere.
A short flight of steps and a tunnel take you down through a cavernous structure with the massive foundations of 18th-century BC towers that once guarded the Gihon Spring, the original water supply of ancient Jerusalem. Hezekiah's Tunnel, also known as the Shiloah or Siloam Tunnel, was cut through the hill to secure the city's water supply. It emerges at a small pool long identified as the New Testament "Pool of Siloam" where a blind man had his sight restored (John 9). A staircase brings you down to the flagstones of a Herodian street and the edge of what may have been the original pool.
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