Kishle Tour (Citadel at Jaffa Gate Jerusalem) — Herod the Great’s Palace

Over the years I have heard about the excavations under the Kishle (Turkish “temporary encampment;” now an Israeli police station) that revealed the foundations of King Herod’s Palace.  This site is located just inside and south of Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.  I have always wanted to see these excavations but have not been able to gain access until today.


View looking south at the excavation that is under the Kishle. Actually, the wall perpendicular to the “org” at the bottom of the image is thought to be from the time of the Judean King Hezekiah (ca. 701 B.C.) — More in a future post.

What I found out is that there are guided tours (in English) that are open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10:00 AM for 45 NIS (ca. $11.50).  So, I purchased my ticket at the entrance to the citadel.  I was expecting a 20 minute tour of the excavations, but instead the tour lasted 90 minutes!  Our guide, Talia, took us to the top of the citadel and gave us an overview of the Old and New City).  We then walked down through the citadel examining the Hasmonean (2nd to 1st centuries B.C.) and Herodian (Herod ruled 37–4 B.C.)  walls (maybe even Hezekiah walls) along the way.

Via an underground passage way we entered the dry moat and made our way to the south (Talia commenting all along the way).  Along the path toward the excavated area we were shown a magnificent stepped pool that was part of King Herod’s Palace.


Looking northeast at the carved steps that lead into the magnificent rock–cut pool that formed part of the Palace of Herod the Great (picture from inside the pool)

And . . . .


A ritual bath (miqvah) that probably dates to the Hasmonean Period. Note the steps leading down into the miqvah.

And . . .


An engaged column base—possibly from Herod’s time.

We spent about 20 minutes under the Kishle examining modern, Medieval, Herodian, Hasmonian, and First Temple walls and an aqueduct and a tanners’ tub—but these will be for a future post.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile 90 minutes!  And to top it off, we ended up inside the citadel so we were free to wander and photograph to our hearts content—all for $11.50!



9 responses to “Kishle Tour (Citadel at Jaffa Gate Jerusalem) — Herod the Great’s Palace

  1. Wow. This is great information, Carl. Thank you. BTW, back on 9 May you had a post on Samaria/Sebaste. How did you gain access to that area? We drove up on 25 Mar. Came to an Israeli security post and was asked by the guard “What are you doing here?” I said, “We’re here to visit the national park”. After giving him three different options for the name, he said, “No, you can’t go in there. Very dangerous. Only with military escort.” So I said, “Can I have a military escort?” He actually radioed someone on his walkie talkie and the answer was “No”. It was all very frustrating considering we were so close. So what is the secret? Craig

    • Greetings! On 27 June 2015, we visited Samaria/Sebastia with a group (had lunch on the site). Also visited Tell Balata, Jacob’s Well and Mt. Gerizim. We did not encounter any checkpoints. I guess that there must have been something “in the works” the day you tried to visit Samaria.

  2. Thanks for all of your work — pictures and the info! Kishle is pretty fascinating! I was there with a group on 20 May It exceeded expectations. It also led to interesting discussions on the movements of Christ on the night before His crucifixion.

  3. Can you only tour this as part of a guided tour?

  4. Carl Thanks for this post. Through your study can you pin-point the location where Pilates Praetorium may have been? Can you visualize or map Herod’s palace on top of the current Tower of David Citadel site? I am having a hard time visualizing this and it sounds like the most likely spot of Jesus trial before Pilate. Thanks
    Brad in Grand Rapids, MI

  5. Pingback: Under the jail – a visit to the Kishle | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  6. Where was the praetroium? Many think by Herods Palace BUT we have no memories of the ancient time to this place. There was a palace before Herode build this one. It was the old Hasmonean palace opposite the western wall today around the area of Aish Ha Torah. Nothing survived there from that time or could be excavated. But if you stand at the Western Wall and turn around 180 degree and look at Aish Ha Torah building, this area must be the praetorium. Why? In the old memories of the first generations of christians there is this area mentioned but at no time the area which is to today the Tower of David.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s