For close to 40 years, the model of the Second Temple looked down at southern Jerusalem from the hilltop alongside the Holyland Hotel, where millions came to get a feel of what life was like in Jerusalem at the time of Herod. Now the famous model is being forced to move, and will find a new home on the grounds of the Israel Museum.
The site fell from popularity in the past four years as tourism dwindled, and only recently have the tourists started returning. But now a new problem has arisen: the property's owners want to build a complex of towers at the site, and "the apartment dwellers will not feel comfortable to constantly have tour buses driving around here," said Hillel Charney, grandson of the hotel's original owner.
The model is due to be moved to the museum within a year, and a number of kindergartens will be built in its place. The Holyland owners will be responsible for moving the model and will continue to receive entrance fees when it is in its new home.
The model will stand close to the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Second Temple period are located. That shrine was reopened to visitors yesterday after a lengthy restoration.
The Temple model was the brainchild of the hotel's owner, Hans Kroch, in the early 1960s. "That was the time that Israelis could only dream about the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, but could not approach them," said Charney. "Grandpa decided to bring the Temple to them."
In its heyday, from the 1980s until the second intifada, 300,000 visitors a year saw it. It was also used by the Temple Mount Faithful superimposed the model on a picture of present-day Jerusalem in one of their posters.
The model shows the topography of the area as seen in that period, which was much more imposing than today. The Temple Mount was built according to exact Biblical references, and the surrounding buildings according to the understanding of its planner, archaeology professor Michael Avi-Yonah. The model was adjusted only once, following a dig in the 1970s by Prof. Binyamin Mazar which revealed that Robinson's Arch and the southern approaches to the mount looked different than the model.
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