First Century Jerusalem

First century Jerusalem was a bustling metropolis on the brink of disaster. And yet, architecturally and culturally, this was also one of the most prolific periods of Jerusalem history.

In 19 CE, the Romans installed Herod as king. Herod (37-4 BCE) promptly launched one of the most ambitious public building projects in antiquity and turned Jerusalem into a stunningly beautiful city. His most famous project was the extensive renovation of the Temple, but he also built many other buildings in Jerusalem and throughout Judea.

The best way to imagine Jerusalem in the first century is to visit the model at the Israel Museum. The city included not only the Temple Mount and the lower city (the area of the present day Ophel Archaeological Park and the City of David), but also the upper city (the present day Armenian and Jewish quarters). Right next to the Temple, Herod razed the HaBirah Fortress and replaced it with the imposing Antonia Fortress.

model of first century jerusalem

The upper and lower city.

antonia fortress in first century jerusalem

The Antonia Fortress.

the temple in first century jerusalem

The Temple

You can see the model on display at the Israel Museum.

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