A 16th-century Spanish masterpiece, The Wedding Dance, officially unveiled in 2019 in the western desert town of Jericho, in a vast, newly restored spiral mosaic.
Described as “the most-produced ancient Turkish-Islamic decorative piece in the world,” the mosaic was donated to the ownership of the American Israeli Heritage Foundation last year.
The work was created by Ottoman artisans between 1577 and 1580, at the height of the influence of the then 13th century Marranos in Spain. According to the foundation, the mosaic is “a testament to the influence of Islamic learning on the Spaniards.”
Today, the mosaic is part of the Dome of the Rock, the second holiest site in Islam, located at the center of what is widely recognized as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The mosaic can be found inside the entrance to the 7th-century fortress of The Castle, a ruin at the southernmost tip of the new “David Ben-Gurion Park,” named after the late prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion.
The mosaic was rescued from the ruins of the old castle last year after the Israeli Antiquities Authority called for its removal in 2014 because it was unsafe. It will now be permanently displayed as part of a pedestrian space called the “Persians/Dutch Triangle.”
Ben-Gurion Park was made possible through a private donation from the American-Israeli Heritage Foundation, the organization also responsible for establishing Wadi Araba Valley in the West Bank. It will include a wide range of activities, such as sporting events, concerts, theatre, history talks, and culinary tours.
This will become the only place in Israel where visitors can travel “off the beaten path,” “searcher-like,” and “explore Middle Eastern villages and historical sites” that they might not otherwise get to see, according to the foundation.