For many decades, all that Jews had left of the glorious Second Temple was the Western Wall; a site cherished by the Jewish people as the last remaining artifact from their most sacred house of worship. In recent years, there have been discoveries beyond the Western Wall atop the Temple Mount. Ongoing archaeological digs have uncovered an astonishing wealth of artifacts related to the Temple Mount and dating back to the time of the Second Temple. An archaeological park and learning center -- the Davidson Center – have helped organize the finds, creating a tribute to centuries past. While a visit to the Western Wall remains a staple of any tour to Israel, an exploration of the archaeological park and center is nearly as important and every bit as interesting.
Ophel Archeological Park - Where History Comes to Life
Located near the Old City's Dung Gate, the Ophel Archaeological Park is one of the country's most inspiring outdoor museums. Best known for its excavation of hidden parts of the Temple Mount, the Ophel Archaeological Park features an array of historical artifacts and impressive architecture dating back to antiquity. Meticulously designed with a chronological timeline in mind, the park leads visitors through the ages, beginning with the Bronze Age (the time of the Canaanites), through the days of the First Temple to the heyday of the Israelites during the Second Temple and the reign of King Herod the Great.
Remaining true to the urban structure of ancient Jerusalem, the park features remnants of residential areas displayed alongside vestiges of commercial streets, all surrounding the glory of the Second Temple. Ophel Park is also built in layers, taking visitors into a conceptual time machine that transports them from the time of the First Temple to the age of Christianity and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, spanning some 5,000 years through all the artifacts in the park.
Virtual Reality at the Davidson Center
Built on the ruins of a seventh century A.D. Muslim palace, the state of the art technology of the Davidson Center provides a visual and aural explanation of all the artifacts found in the Ophel Park. A highlight of the center, and a favorite with those on a family trip to Israel, is the virtual reality screen which reconstructs, in real-time, the glorious Second Temple as it was in the time of King Herod.
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