Zedekiah’s Cave is an ancient cave located next to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. The history of this 230 meter-long cave is complex and highly disputed, making it a fascinating place to film. The cave was discovered in 1854, during Ottoman rule of Palestine, when an American scholar, Dr. James Turner Barclay, was walking with his dog through Jerusalem. The story goes that the dog ran off and began barking at something on the ground. As Barclay approached the area of interest to the dog, he realized that he had stumbled upon something unique. After closer inspection he uncovered the cave that had been sealed for several hundred years.
After archeological and historical inspection of the cave, there are several ideas as to its historical usage. One theory claims that the cave was used by King Solomon as a quarry during the building the first temple, hence, some refer to the cave as “King Solomon’s Quarries”. The cave’s other name, Zedekiah’s Cave, is based on the legend that Zedekiah, the Judean King, fled Jerusalem to Jericho, while Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, through this cave.
Based on archeological evidence, some say that the cave was not in use during the First Temple era. Rather it was used during the Second Temple period and is connected to the massive building projects of King Herod. And there is another legend that states that when the Roman legions placed Jerusalem under siege, under the command of Titus, the priests of the Temple hid the holy utensils and instruments of the Temple in the cave.
After the cave was discovered in 1854 it was briefly used again as a quarry. Based on the belief of the British freemasons, that King Solomon was the first freemason, they conducted secret rituals in the hall from 1854 with the permission of the Ottoman Empire. It was the idea of the famous archeologist and discoverer, Charles Warren, to hold the rituals in the cave as he was also part of the freemason society. Today when you walk through the cave you reach a hall called the “Freemasons Hall,” named after these secret rituals held in the cave.
Beyond the Freemason Hall, further along inside the cave, is Zedekiah’s spring, which is still working today. It is called by some, “the spring of King Zedekiah’s tears,” based on the folktale that it is made up of the tears of King Zedekiah and his sons.
What is unique about the cave is that it is the largest artificial cave discovered in Israel, and this also happens to be the only undisputed fact about the cave. The cave extends underneath the houses of the Moslem quarter covering a total of 9,000 square meters, and the average height of the cave is 15 meters. Due to the cave’s historical and archeological importance it is a fascinating place to film. You need to obtain a permit in order to film at the cave and we recommend you bring extra lighting.