Pinsteps. Jerusalem's Fall: Titus, Berenice, and the Siege of 70 AD
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The capture and destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 70 AD, during the summer months, marking the culmination of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman legions were led by the future Emperor Titus, son of the then Emperor Vespasian. The defenders of Jerusalem were a mixture of Jewish rebel factions that had managed to hold the city since a widespread rebellion against Roman rule began in 66 AD.

The Roman legions first captured the "Upper City," also known as Zion, home to Jerusalem's aristocrats, wealthier citizens, and high priestly families. It was a beautiful area with ornate, high-quality architecture and broad, well-built streets.

After a brutal siege, the Romans finally breached the walls of the Holy City and moved on to assault the Temple Mount, the sacred heart of Jerusalem. It was here that the Second Temple, the centre of Jewish worship, was located.

Titus had initially hoped to preserve the Temple, but amidst the chaotic fighting, the Temple was set ablaze and destroyed, signalling a catastrophic loss for the Jewish people. Although the specific individual who started the fire remains unknown, the act marked a turning point in Jewish-Roman relations.

Intriguingly, Titus had a romantic relationship with Berenice, a Jewish princess of the Herodian dynasty. She was in Jerusalem during the early stages of the war but left before the siege. Later, she joined Titus in Rome, where their relationship continued.

Today, you can see the stones that once formed the upper part of the Western Wall, lying where they fell nearly two millennia ago during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. These fallen stones are a stark and tangible reminder of the city's tumultuous past.

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Evgeny Praisman
Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park, Jerusalem

The Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park in Jerusalem offer a remarkable and profoundly engaging journey into the city's past and vibrant present.

As soon as you enter the Jewish Quarter, located in the southeastern sector of the walled city, you are immediately met with a fusion of ancient history and living culture. The area is teeming with synagogues, schools, and archaeological treasures that attract scholars, tourists, and religious pilgrims worldwide.

The narrow, winding, stone-paved streets are filled with shops selling religious artefacts, artwork, jewellery, and traditional Jewish foods. Historic sites like the Hurva Synagogue, an architectural marvel restored to its former grandeur, and the Four Sephardic Synagogues, each with its unique history and style, are crucial stops.

Just a short walk away, The Davidson Archaeological Park, also known as the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, reveals the city's history layer by layer. Overlooking the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the park displays remnants from the First and Second Temple periods.

One of the standout features of the park is the Southern Wall excavation site. Here, you can see the steps pilgrims used to climb to reach the Temple Mount and the Hulda Gates, once the main entrance to the Temple compound.

Robinson's Arch, the ruins of an impressive ancient staircase that once led to the Temple Mount, is another must-see in the park. You can also explore the Umayyad palaces, evidence of the rich Islamic history of Jerusalem.

The Davidson Center, located within the park, houses a museum where you can learn more about the Temple Mount's history through interactive exhibits and 3D virtual reconstruction models. A film shown at regular intervals helps visitors understand the significance of the Temple Mount in both Jewish and Muslim traditions.

In addition to its historical and archaeological significance, the park also offers breathtaking views of the Old City and the Mount of Olives, making it a popular spot for contemplation and reflection.

This unique combination of rich history, spiritual significance, and vibrant, ongoing culture makes visiting the Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park a genuinely immersive and unforgettable experience.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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