Jerusalem is an ancient Middle Eastern city, lying on the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Dead Seas, at an altitude of 650-840 m above sea level. Jerusalem is among the oldest cities in the world is its age of over 3,500 years.
Jerusalem is the sacred city of three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Jerusalem is the center of two religions – Judaism and Christianity. Jerusalem is of no small importance for Islam and is a mixture of historical monuments, cultures, and peoples with a huge number of attractions.
Jerusalem, the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea, today is the official capital of the State of Israel, with all the government agencies in it.
Brief History of Jerusalem
The most important milestones in the history of Jerusalem:
– The first settlements in the territory that the Old City now occupies appeared around 3rd millennia BC.
– Around 1000 BC, the city became the capital of the state of King David. The Ark of the Covenant is brought here with the tablets received by Moses on Mount Sinai, and on Mount Moriah, they begin to build a temple.
– Mid-end of the VI century BC – the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and the construction of the Second Temple, which the Romans destroyed already under the leadership of Emperor Titus in 70 AD. The city itself was also destroyed, on the ruins of which the Romans began the construction of a military settlement Eliya Capitolina. By the beginning of the II century, the Roman temple of Jupiter appeared on the Temple Mount, which caused a serious uprising of the Jewish population, after the suppression of which the Roman emperor Hadrian forbade Jews to appear in Jerusalem, and changed the name of the state to Palestine.
– The appearance of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, his sermon in the temple of Solomon, as well as the condemnation of him by the court of the Sanhedrin, and then by the court of the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to death and the crucifixion itself on Mount Calvary, are dated by historians in the late 1920s and early 1930s . Christ himself carried his cross to the place of execution, later his route along Via Dolorosa became one of the holiest places for Christians around the world.
– In the IV century, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Jerusalem passed into the possession of Byzantium, whose emperor Constantine the Great turns Christianity into the official religion of his state. And his mother, Empress Helena, visits Jerusalem in search of places related to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At her command, on the site of Golgotha and the cave in which the Messiah was buried, the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher begins (the first temple was built and consecrated in 335), which later became the main shrine of the Christian world.
– From the 7th century, a series of Arab conquests of Jerusalem begins, as a result of which the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is repeatedly damaged and rebuilt, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and then the Dome of the Rock sanctuary (Kubat al-Sahra) were erected on the Temple Mount, where the Temple of Solomon once stood. )
– XI-XIII centuries – for most of this period, Jerusalem was ruled by the crusaders while not ceasing to be the center of confrontation between the Western Christian and Eastern Muslim worlds.
– From 1517 and till the end of World War I, the city was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, at this time walls and most of the buildings of the Old City that tourists see today are being erected.
– In 1922, Jerusalem and all of Palestine, by the decision of the League of Nations, were transferred to the British Mandate. From this moment until 1948, when the independent state of Israel was formed, the confrontation between the troops of the British Palestinian Authority and the Jewish rebels does not stop.
– In 1948, during the first Arab-Israeli war, the Old City and the eastern part of the “new” Jerusalem were captured by Jordan. The city was divided by a wall until 1967, when, during the Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces managed to completely liberate Jerusalem, including the Old City, from Jordanian troops.
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority officially consider Jerusalem their capital, not recognizing such a right for the other side. Unfortunately, Israel’s sovereignty over the eastern part of the city was not officially recognized by the UN and by a significant part of the international community.
The status of Jerusalem is a subject of heated debate. UN General Assembly Resolution No. 181 of November 29, 1947, known as the “Partition of Palestine Resolution,” suggested that the international community would take control of the future of Jerusalem after the end of the British Mandate by May 15, 1948.
On December 5, 1949, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital. In Jerusalem are the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and all state and government institutions in Israel. In 1948–67, when East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan, this status extended only to the western part of the city.
As a result of the glorious victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, thus gaining control over the entire territory of the city, legally separated East Jerusalem from the western bank of the Jordan River and declared its sovereignty over united Jerusalem.
By the Law of Jerusalem of July 30, 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem its single and indivisible capital.
The Old City
The Old City of Jerusalem is the home for the most significant religious and historical monuments not only of the Middle East but also of the whole world. The Old City is divided into four parts: Christian, Jewish, Armenian, and Muslim quarters. The latter occupies the largest area. The division is not conditional, but clearly distinguishable – according to the structure and appearance of houses and streets, the way of life.
To the left of the Jaffa Gate is the tourist information office. To the right of the Jaffa Gate is the complex of the oldest surviving buildings of Jerusalem – the Tower of David (Migdal David). In fact, this is an ancient citadel, which was erected in the II century BC. Today, the Museum of the History of Jerusalem works here, and access to the ramparts is also open. In the evening (after dark) from December to August, the laser show “Night Mystery” is held in the citadel.
The Christian Quarter occupies the northwestern part of the city – between the fortress wall, the Jaffa Gate in the west (these gates are the main entrance to the Old City for the vast majority of tourists), the New Gate in the north, and David Street in the south.
From the Jaffa Gate, David Street goes straight into the Quarter, where the main Christian monument is located – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the holiest sites of Christianity. According to the custom established in the 12th century, the temple opens at sunrise by a representative of an ancient Muslim family. From the moment of opening up to the appearance of the first tourist groups (around 8:00-9:00), anyone who enters here is given a unique opportunity to see the temple in all its splendor: a small rotunda in the center called Kuvukliya, where the Holy Sepulcher is located, the church of the Holy Apostles Helena, the Anointing Stone, Calvary with the place of the Crucifixion, Catholicon, the underground temple of the Finding of the Life-Giving Cross.
Christian Quarter hosts the Greek, Latin, and Ethiopian patriarchates (all within three to four streets from the temple). The notorious Via Dolorosa street, by which, according to the Gospels, Christ made his mournful journey to Calvary, is also located here.
Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the quarters of the Old Town, located in its southwestern part. It is believed that it arose on the site of the residence of the Jewish king Herod the Great. The Quarter begins behind David’s Citadel, and on the west side, the border goes along the Armenian Patriarchate str. up to the southern wall of the Old City and Zion’s Gate, from the east the street bordering the Jewish Quarter is Habad str., The northern part of the Quarter is bordered by Christian Quarter (David street).
The first Armenians settled in Jerusalem at the beginning of our era, and already from the 4th century, it is known about a small community of pilgrims who settled near Mount Zion, which is located behind the current wall of the Old City, opposite the Zion Gate.
The main attractions of the Quarter are the Cathedral of St. James (Sent-James Cathedral), named after the Apostle James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, the Church of the Angels, where the olive is preserved in the courtyard, to which, as the New Testament says, the Messiah was tied before appearing before the court of Zion’s high priests; Armenian patriarchy and seminary.
In the Armenian Quarter, there are several workshops that make jewelry and ceramic dishes (each item is painted by hand, therefore unique).
If you leave the Armenian Quarter through the Zion Gate and follow Tsion str., The street will lead to the Cenacle, where the Last Supper took place, as well as to the tomb of King David at the foot of Mount Zion. To the left of the gate, directly on the outside of the wall, is the Ophel Archaeological Garden, where you can see the remains of buildings from the Second Temple, as well as the famous Robinson Arch, named after the explorer Edward Robinson, who discovered it in the middle of the 19th century. The arch, however, is more reminiscent of small ledges and fragments of the structure on the wall – as historians believe, most likely, during the Second Temple, there was a massive staircase and bridge that led to the Temple Mount.
The Jewish Quarter is located in the south of the Old City; You can go directly to the Jewish part of the city, bypassing other quarters, through the Garbage Gate. on Habad str. The Jewish QuarterQuarter is bordered by Armenian, and its other border is indicated by the Western Wall (Kotel Maaraveeh), the only surviving part of the Second Temple. In fact, this is only a small section of masonry, built during the reign of Herod the Great in order to maintain the slope of the mountain on which the Temple was located. For almost two thousand years since the Romans expelled Jews from Jerusalem, the Wall is a symbol of faith and the rebirth of the people and state. From 1948 to 1967, during the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were again forbidden to pray at the Wall. Jews were able to return to their shrine, which to this day is the most important for the Jews of the whole world, only after the capture of the Old City on June 7, 1967.
Today anyone can approach the Wall – put a note with wishes or requests to the Almighty in the gap between the ancient stones. The area in front of the Wailing Wall is divided into two parts: only men can be on the left and women on the right.
Many ancient synagogues have been preserved in the Jewish quarter, including Or Haim (its courtyard appendix crashes into the Armenian Quarter), on the territory of which there is a museum of the Yoshuv courtyard, dedicated to the history of the Jewish life of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities of Jerusalem.
Along Chabad Street is the ancient shopping street Cardo, which was laid by the Romans during the restructuring of Jerusalem into Aelia Capitolina. In those days, it was an urban Broadway. You can still see the details characteristic of the Romans, and after the Byzantines, the architectural style. Many premises of street shops and shops are perfectly preserved and are used today for their intended purpose: here you can buy jewelry, paintings, ceramics, etc. handmade.
If you go from Cardo along Ha-Karaim street, the road will lead to the Archaeological Museum. If you leave the Old City along Batei Mahase Street and then walk along the walls along Ma’ale ha Shalom, then before the tourist, there will be excavations of the city of David, from which, in fact, the construction of Jerusalem began four thousand years ago. If you go around the excavations and climb higher to the Gihon Square (Ha-Gikhon Square), then you will certainly go to the source of the stream of the same name, which supplied the Old Town with water. Water made its way in the rock under the city, and in the VIII century BC a tunnel was broken into the creek, connecting the source with the Siloam Pull inside the city of that time (now the passage and source are outside the city walls), so Jerusalem did not have water problems during sieges, and in addition, the residents of the city secretly leave it using the tunnel. By the end of the 19th century, the secret water supply system was discovered by researcher Charles Warren, after whom the 13-meter passage to the Gihon spring was later named. You can walk along the bed of the stream today, and you need a flashlight and shorts or any clothes above your knees.
The Muslim quarter of Jerusalem occupies the northeastern part of the city. With the Christian “world”, the border runs along Via Dolorosa street parallel to the west, the Western Wall is the border, in the south – the northern wall of the Temple Mount. Two gates lead to this part of the city: the Lions and the main for the inhabitants of East Jerusalem – Damascus.
The main attractions at this part of the city are the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock sanctuary (Kubat al-Sahra) on the Temple Mount. Al-Aqsa (gray dome), one of the very first mosques on Earth, is the third most important shrine of the Islamic world after Mecca and Medina. Al-Aqsa, or the Umar mosque (not to be confused with the Omar mosque, which is not located on the Temple Mount, but next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher), was built by the beginning of the VIII century, then rebuilt several times. During the first crusade after the capture of the city by knights, Al-Aksu was turned into a palace.
By the way, many knights took for the Second Temple the building of the Dome of the Rock sanctuary (the Golden Dome), which was erected at the end of the 7th century initially as a caravanserai for pilgrims over a piece of rock, which is also sacred for Jews (it is believed that the Ark of the Covenant stood on it) , and for Muslims (according to the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad ascended from him).
Entrance to the Temple Mount is possible for tourists daily (a special gallery stretches from the square in front of the Kotel), except Friday and Saturday, and non-Muslims are not allowed to climb the mountain during prayers and Islamic holidays. In addition, the entrance to the mountain is blocked by the police in the event of unrest in East Jerusalem. It is important to remember that alcohol, open and provocative clothing in both women and men is unacceptable on the mountain.
Another attraction of the quarter is Damascus Gate. Those that still serves as an exit to East Jerusalem were built during the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1542. At the beginning of our era in this place was the triumphal arch of the Roman emperor Hadrian.
If you exit the Damascus Gate, turn right and walk about 300 meters, there will be an entrance to the cave in the wall. In fact, the cave is mostly man-made and represents the ancient quarries of the times of King Solomon, the stones of which were used to build the city. The cave has many halls, passages, as well as an underground source. In ancient times, the family of the ruler of Judea was hiding from the troops of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
Outside the Old Town
On Safra Square stands the beautiful city hall of Jerusalem. A series of attractions stretch along the main street of the city, Jaffa: Davidka Square (Kikar-a-Herut, named after the home-made mortar “Davidka”, which was actively used by the Israelis during the Revolutionary War), the main market of the city is Mahane Yehuda, the largest concert hall – Jerusalem Hall – Bignani a’Uma (Palace of the Nation), Allenby Memorial, the Clock Tower Synagogue (1906) and the picturesque quarter of the Orthodox Jews Mea Shearim (“One hundred gates”).
On the hillside of Givat Ram are the Knesset building (1966) – the residence of the Israeli parliament, the old Kiriya parliament building, the Supreme Court (1992), the huge Givat Ram university campus, the Hebrew Academy, Ort College, amphitheater, and the National Museum of Israel, with the Billy Rose Garden of Art and unique expositions, the Monastery of the Holy Cross (IV century BC), as well as the Temple of the Book, which houses the famous “Dead Sea Scrolls”, the Museum of Bible Land and so on. The southern slope of the hill is occupied by a beautiful botanical garden.
Mount Herzl (Gar-Herzel) is home to the National Cemetery, where prominent Israeli figures are buried, as well as the museum of Theodor Herzl (Benjamin Zeeva) – the founder of the ideology of Zionism, theorist of the creation of the Jewish state and the creator of the World Zionist Organization. At the foot of this mountain lies the Ein Kerem district (“spring in the vineyard”), in which, according to legend, John the Baptist was born. Now here you can see the churches of St. John (1674), Visits (1955), the monastery of the Sisters of Zion (1860), the Russian Orthodox convent (founded at the end of the 19th century) with the church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, the Catholic monastery of the Sisters of the Rosary (1910) ), as well as visit the Truga music center and a small synagogue with stained glass windows of Chagall. On the hill of Remembrance, west of Har-Herzel is the national memorial Yad Vashem (“Eternal Memory,” 1953), dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, around which the Janusz Korczak Park is laid out.
Mount Scopus (Gar-a’Zofim, 826 meters) is located west of the city and is another magnificent viewing platform. The Hebrew University is located here. Outside the Old City, there is also the famous Kedron (or Josaphatova) Valley with tombs of the beginning of our era, the Church of St. Magdalene, the Ratisbon Monastery (1874), the tomb of Jason (II century BC), the largest synagogue in Jerusalem (1982) and one of the largest synagogues in Jerusalem is Yeshurun, as well as Gehl-Shlomo (Solomon’s Palace), Independence Park (Gann-Atzmaut), the Rubin Academy of Music and many other historical and cultural monuments.
The city has an incredible number of various collections and galleries: the Rockefeller Museum, the Museum of the Bible, the Mishkanot-a-Rosim Museum (Bedouin’s life) behind the Governor’s Palace, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Mandelbaum Museum, the Armenian Museum, the Tycho House Museum, the Museum Natural Sciences Museum, Temple Mount Islam Museum, Wali Archaeological Museum, Old Yishuv Museum (Jewish Community), Last Day Museum, Tax Museum, Toujeman House Watchtower Museum, Funicular Museum, Hey Antique Craft Studio Museum Ein-Yael and so on. Tourists are also attracted by the biblical zoo, the Rabinovich park with a giant statue “The Beast,” the Akaron Children’s Theater (“The Wagon”), the Saker Park with attractions, as well as the Paamon and Dror parks.
There are many outdoor cafes and restaurants are located on Ben Yehuda Boulevard in the center of Jerusalem, where life is always in full swing. On the Russian Compound, in the heart of the city, many pubs appeared, and the southern Talpiot district is considered disco. The streets of Nahalat Shiva and Yoel-Salomon are considered to be “young areas,” and the best Jerusalem restaurants are located in the Feingold-Kort district. In July-August, local restaurants hold open-air culinary mini-festivals every Tuesday evening. In recent years, the nightlife of the city has noticeably revived. From Jerusalem, you can make an interesting journey through archaeological sites in the Land of Canaan in off-road cars.