Conrad Schick knew the Temple Mount like no one else in his day. And now his 140-year-old model, with the Dome of the Rock in the center and Al Aqsa Mosque at the southern end, has returned to Jerusalem.
A German-born architect, archaeologist and Protestant missionary, Schick moved to Jerusalem in 1846 at age 24 and spent 50 years exploring and studying the city and its surroundings. In addition to designing buildings and neighborhoods for the growing modern Jerusalem, he worked tirelessly for the Palestine Exploration Fund. In the 1870s he gained unprecedented access to the Temple Mount—generally off limits to foreigners at that time—allowing him to study the structures and underground features in great detail.
He used this extensive research to build a full model of the Temple Mount for display at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair in the Turkish exhibit. The model, which measures about 13 feet by 10 feet, shows the Temple Mount as it was in the late 19th century and includes removable pieces that allow a view of the many underground features Schick documented, such as water cisterns, tunnels and channels. This offers scholars a rare glimpse at parts of the Temple Mount that are still very difficult to study today.
Following the exhibition in Vienna, Schick’s Temple Mount model was moved to the St. Chrischone mission near Basel, Switzerland, where it stayed for 138 years until being purchased and put back on display earlier this year at Christ Church (Anglican) near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate.