Model of Jerusalem – 19th Century

A one of a kind model created in 1872 by Hungarian pilgrim Stephen Illes. The model depicts Jerusalem as it was in Illes’ time and is unique both for its many details and for the fact that it documents the city’s appearance prior to the significant changes it underwent in the 20th century. For example, the model immortalizes the Jewish Quarter before it was destroyed in 1948.

The model was first displayed in 1873 in the Ottoman pavilion at the World’s Fair in Vienna. At the demand of Ottoman authorities, the model included some deliberate distortions such as the disproportionately large minarets. From Vienna, the model traveled to various European cities and was purchased in 1878, by community leaders in Geneva. It was on display at the city’s Salle de la Réformation for some 40 years.

Forgotten for 64 years in the attic of the Geneva Public and University Library, it was rediscovered in 1984 in a comprehensive research project conducted by Moti Yair, a student at the Hebrew University.

In 1985, the model was transferred to Jerusalem and restored. It is now exhibited on permanent loan at the Tower of David Museum.

Zinc model, 18 m2, scale 1:500