Although the biblical account states that King David was “buried with his forefathers in the City of David,” a more recent tradition would have it that the legendary monarch’s remains lie a few hundred meters from there, on Mount Zion. The structure that has come to be known as King David’s Tomb is near the Dormition Abbey, on the ground floor of a former Byzantine church traditionally considered the site of the Last Supper.
The first evidence that the site was viewed as David’s burial place is in the writings of fabled traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who in the late 12th century wrote that the tomb was uncovered during repairs to the church. Still, it remains unclear what prompted those who declared the site to be David’s final resting place. A sarcophagus placed by the Crusaders at the site is covered by a blue cloth ornamented with several symbols associated with King David, including a violin and a crown covering Torah scrolls. Whether or not the sarcophagus contains any human remains is anyone’s guess, but the site is still impressive and well worth a visit – if only for its regal architecture.
Between 1948 and 1967, while the Jordanians ruled the Old City and the Temple Mount, Jewish pilgrims wishing to come as close as they could to their holy sites would pray on the roof of David’s Tomb. Today the site is owned by the Diaspora Yeshiva.