Tours of Jerusalem today take you many places, such as the Tower of King David or the “Wailing Wall” as the only remaining temple structure is called.
Hearing about a historical era is one thing, but what if there were more for the senses?
Now, with the help of improved virtual reality technology, Jerusalem is coming alive like we have never seen before.
Archeologists believe they have a good idea of what Jerusalem looked like 2,000 years ago, and one museum just put that knowledge to extraordinary use.
The Tower of David museum has just begun virtual reality tours that let you hear the singing of the priests from the tribe of Levi, and “walk around the Holy Temple” when it was still standing, according to Fun in Jerusalem.
One is sure to get chills hearing the praises coming from within the Temple of the Most High.
Reading the Bible, we get good descriptions of what the Temple looked like. We know that the Leviim (as the people of the tribe of Levi are called in Hebrew) ran the Temple duties, but to feel like we are walking there ourselves in ancient days is another story altogether.
Accessing the virtual reality center is simple. It is located on the side of the Western Wall Plaza, and is an addition to the Kotel Tunnels project, which have guided tours underneath the Old City through complex tunnels that were dug out thousands of years ago.
When visiting Israel, you will definitely want to spend some quality time taking in the sights and sounds of the Kotel, otherwise known as the Western Wall. If you can get there during any of the feast days (Leviticus 23) you will witness an unforgettable cultural experience that will have you joining in song and dance.
There are many signs and vendors who can direct you towards the Western Wall once you enter the city’s stronghold through Jaffa Gate, or you can take a bus directly to the Western Wall entrance if you don’t want to do a lot of walking. Although, you won’t want to miss the narrow corridors that Jesus likely strolled underfoot.
The Tower of David Museum director, Eilat Lieber, says the digital journey titled, “Step into History,” allows victors to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” reports Times of Israel.
How the virtual reality tour came about was a conglomerate of geniuses by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and technicians at Lithodomos VR. They worked side by side to give the viewer a 3-D, real life feel of the fortress of Jerusalem, along with the streets and Temple under King Herod in the first century and during Jesus’s time.
Creators of the simulation chose to show Jerusalem during King Herod’s era because he was responsible for much of the popular parts of the city’s construction. His rule during 37-4 BC was marked by heavy construction, including enlarging the Temple and where the Tower of David is to this day.
According to Times of Israel, “the mountaintop fortress at Masada and the port city of Caesarea, are among the most visited sites in Israel.”
The 3-D journey was not completed without extensive research and discussion. To our dismay, there was a lack of digital cameras in ancient Jerusalem, so the exact appearance of structures, people, and items are up for debate.
Lithodomos VR founder, Simon Young, in Australia said that the biggest challenge to the project was “getting it right,” according to Times of Israel. He continues, “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.”
Visiting the Old City, you will no doubt want to check out the Tower of David light show, where detailed images move across the walls to tell a story you won’t forget. This elaborate production is also designed by Lithodomos VR, and has brought the visitor experience to a whole new level. The hope is that the city’s virtual reality simulations will bring the city to life in a similar way.
A two-hour tour can be taken by walking through the city with a guide while historical narratives are told. When you get to a stopping point of interest, the guide will instruct you to put on the virtual reality goggles, where you can get a closer look into what is being discussed.
An Australian tourist who was privy to the virtual reality project before its launch said that it “brings history to life”, and that it makes the stories you hear concerning Jerusalem “more real”, according to Times of Israel.
You don’t need a reservation at this point to join in the unforgettable virtual adventure, but it is recommended because of its increasing popularity, which is no surprise considering the huge influx of virtual reality games and movies.
The future of virtual reality isn’t limited to Jerusalem. Lithodomos VR and a team of archeologist have launched similar projects across the globe in London, Rome, Athens, and a few more cities.
Even churches are taking advantage of the technology, conducting virtual church services that you can tap into from your couch at home. An established virtual reality church in Los Angeles aims to “to explore and communicate God through virtual reality, augmented reality, and next generation technologies”, reports the Christian Post.
It will be interesting to see other applications of virtual reality as developers get more and more creative. It has already proven to explore historical perspectives, add to the church body, and tell stories that may have otherwise been left to lay.
Be sure not to miss out on the new virtual reality tours in Jerusalem. You will get exercise of both your body and mind while allowing your imagination to place Jesus on the very path you are strolling.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have experienced a city’s virtual reality tours, or if you see VR being applied in additional ways.