King Solomon’s Quarries (Zedekiah’s Cave) – Jerusalem

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Background: Zedekiah’s Cave, or King Solomon’s Quarries, is a massive underground limestone quarry than runs about five blocks beneath the  Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Note: most sources call it Zedekiah’s Cave, but the sign on the front says King Solomon’s Quarries and I’m going with that). The entrance is natural, the rest was dug out over thousands of years, mining the area for its stones. Herod the Great used the quarry for the Second Temple, and it was later used by Suleiman the Magnificent. The cave was lost for 300 years and then rediscovered in 1854 by an American missionary and his dog. It’s now a small, hidden, (but awesome), tourist attraction, and is used by the Israeli Freemasons, as a ritual site.

Impressions: King Solomon’s Quarries was my last stop. It usually isn’t open on Fridays (it’s operated by Muslims), but I passed by it and saw the door open. I walked in and was told I couldn’t enter (it was closed), but they let me take a couple of photos. Then they let me move in a little further. And then they just let me go in. The cave is huge; it’s much bigger than you would expect, and opens up into various caverns, pathways, and even one with a small waterfall drizzle thing. It’s crazy to think this is underneath the Old City and many people don’t even know it. After about half a kilometer of walking (it gets a little unsettling when you’re the only one in a giant cave in Jerusalem), I reached an abrupt end. There was a small fence where it seemed like the excavating just stopped. And then you realize what’s on the other side of that rock is probably even more amazing than anything above. But because excavations under the Temple Mount and into the Temple are forbidden (by everyone), we’ll probably never get to see it. But all in all, the caves are an amazing place to go to, especially because it’s hidden away underneath the Old City, and no one really knows about it or thinks to go there.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on June 14, 2011.

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