The iconic rectangular building of the King David Hotel, constructed of locally quarried pink sandstone and boasting 200 rooms and 60 bathrooms, was opened in 1931 on Julians Way –– today King David Street in Jerusalem.
The hotel has hosted such royalty as the dowager empress of Persia, queen mother Nazli of Egypt and King Abdullah I of Jordan, who arrived with a retinue on horses and camels. The hotel afforded asylum to three royal heads of state who had to flee their countries: King Alfonso VIII of Spain, forced to abdicate in 1931; Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, driven out by the Italians in 1936; and King George II of Greece, who set up his government in exile at the hotel after the Nazi occupation of his country in 1942.
During the British Mandate, the entire southern wing became the administrative and military center of British rule in Palestine and was blown up in July 1946 by the Irgun. The hotel subsequently became a British fortress until May 4, 1948, when the British flag was lowered, and the building became a Jewish stronghold. At the end of the War of Independence, the hotel found itself overlooking "no-mans land" on the border that divided Jerusalem into Israeli and Jordanian territory.
When Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, the hotel reopened under new management and continues to serve as one of the finest hotels in Israel.
Sources: All rights reserved to Albatross/Itamar Greenberg and to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism