A Moat and a Kishle

Posted on March 8, 2015

Ever wonder what the inside of a Turkish Kishle looks like? How about a Moat?

For nearly, 20 years, I have been leading families, business people, adults , kids  young and old on tours through Israel.  A major focus on any tour is Jerusalem; specifically the Old City. Many times my tourists and I have climbed the stairs across from Jaffa Gate (behind the Tower of David ) that lead to the Ramparts of the wall that surrounds Jerusalem’s Old City. Upon reaching the top, we would walk along the Ramparts , peer thru the openings  created by the Turkish soldiers for better shooting and view the sites all around us. In particular we would also  look inwards  thru the windows of the Kishle , trying to imagine what this Turkish prison looked like. We would stand atop the prison roof, and look down upon the stables of the Jerusalem Police Equestrian Brigade. Although the sites of the city look great from here,we were never able to experience or get a real feeling for the Turkish Prison and it’s hidden mysteries…until now.

The wonderful people at the Tower of David Museum have been very busy.For over 10 years they have been digging, cleaning and preparing the site for the public to visit.

Archeologist Amit Reem of the Jerusalem Antiquities Authority always knew that there was more to the area than just what you see from the ramparts above. And so he started to dig down into the Kishle-(the Turkish name for a prison). Digging down all the way to the bedrock he uncovered all  periods of Jerusalem’s history; from today all the way back to the 1st Temple Period.

All  this history is  hidden under the  Kishle.

In the past we would walk onto the roof of the Kishle. Now, walking inside, it turns out that the roof was really the 2nd floor of the building! Today we can walk thru the 1st floor (which we could never do before) , and continue down thru history . Walking thru the Kishle, I was amazed to see walls, walkways and more going back thru  Jerusalem’s history all the way to the Hasmonean period!

Would you believe that there is a theory  that Jesus may have been sentenced to death here, in the bowels of the Kishle? Some say his trial and sentencing may have taken place here, as the Roman Governor would have held court here  in Herod’s palace!

It’s pretty amazing to be able to experience and explore  what is underneath!

And getting  there??

This too was very exciting.

I always knew that there was a MOAT surrounding the Tower of David.  You could walk into the Old City, alongside the Tower of David and just look down. You would see a Dry Moat, which surrounded the Tower area. Most time,the Moat was used as a Garbage Dump for the cities residents. Unfortunately, that “custom” continues even today. ( The city authorities due their best to prevent  this “custom” from continuing). Today you can now walk thru the MOAT  on your way to the Kishle. Along the way, as you are walking along the walls of the Citadel; you get to feel what it was like to walk here in ancient times.

Why is the Citadel  called the Tower of David? Does it really have anything to do with King David?  Isn’t  it really part of  King Herod’s Palace in Jerusalem? Why the  confusion?

Was this really the site of the Trial of Jesus??

Join me,David Schoenfeld, on a tour of the OId City and the Citadel….

and let’s find out!


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