French authorities have opened Jerusalem’s ancient “Tomb of the Kings” to the public for the first time in 10 years, the AP reported on Friday.
Limited numbers of visitors are now being allowed to visit the site, which was closed in 2009 for an extensive, $1.1 million restoration, following several abortive attempts to open it to the public in recent months.
The tomb, which is located in eastern Jerusalem, is believed to be the burial site of Queen Helena of Adiabene, a Mesopotamian monarch who converted to Judaism in the first century BCE. While access to the burial chambers remains prohibited, visitors can now tour the tomb’s impressive courtyard, which dates back over 2,000 years.
There is an ongoing dispute over ownership of the site between France and Israeli religious and nationalist groups, according to the report. In addition, religious Jewish Israelis have protested outside the tomb’s gates since 2009, demanding it be opened for those who want to pray at the site. JN