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History of Jerusalem
The history of Jerusalem is told through the city’s holy sites. As the sun rises over the hills of the Holy City, the golden glow of Jerusalem stone heralds another beautiful day in Israel’s capital city. Ancient Jerusalem reverberates through the trappings of modern Jerusalem and exposes treasures from times long past for peoples of all faiths. Jerusalem is the most important religious city in the world.
Holy Sites in Jerusalem
Throughout the history of Jerusalem, the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths have treasured the sacredness of the Holy Land and its Holy City Jerusalem. From the uniqueness of this City built on Seven Hills, each faith has flourished. Today’s visitor to the Holy City of Jerusalem delights in the passion and greatness of Israel’s capital awash with history, shrines holy to three faiths and relics of the past still very much alive today. The major shrines, the Wailing Wall, Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulcher are highlights of each tourist’s experience. Ancient Jerusalem flourished in what today we call The Old City surrounded by its 465-year old wall. The wall has a total of 11 gates, but only seven are open - Jaffa, Zion, Dung, Loins (St. Stephen’s), Herod’s, Damascus (Shechem) and The New Gate. During the years 1536 - 1541, the Turkish sultan Suleiman built these walls. From atop this wall, one has a unique perspective into the life in the Old City.
Jewish Holy Sites in Jerusalem
Jerusalem`s Jewish history reveres the Wailing Wall. Here stands the only remaining part of the original temple of King Solomon. This was built by Herod the Great as the retaining wall of the Temple Mount complex. The Wailing Wall, the most holy place accessible to the Jewish people because of Muslim control of the Temple Mount, has become the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed. Jerusalem`s Wailing Wall plaza was created as an area for prayer when Israel captured the Old City in 1967. The Wailing Wall became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel`s exile, on the one hand, and of religious and national unity with the memory of Israel`s former glory and the hope for its return, on the other. Since the Holy of Holies was destroyed, the concept of eternal Divine Presence grew to be linked with the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.
When Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall in Jerusalem remained standing; it was not even part of the Temple itself, just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, however, this remnant of what was the most sacred building in the Jewish world became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries, Jews from throughout the world traveled to the Holy Land of Israel and immediately headed for the Kotel ha-Ma`aravi (the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall).
Mt. Zion is Holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims
Mount Zion is on the southern part of historical Jerusalem. The mountain was not included in the area surrounded by Jerusalem`s Walls, but is an integral part of the Old City.
Jewish and Muslim traditions designate Mount Zion as the burial place of King David, and today it is possible to visit one of the most popular burials in Jerusalem - King David`s Tomb..
Christian tradition reveres Mount Zion as the place of the Last Supper held in a room over King David`s Tomb, in the building identified as the Coenaculum or the Cenacle, a small, two-storey structure within a larger complex of buildings on the summit of Mount Zion. The Franciscans built the upper storey in the 14th century to commemorate the Last Supper. The `Coenaculum` is also where Christ re-appeared after his resurrection. It is also identified as the "upper room" in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-3).
In Christian tradition, the area of the city in which the disciples and early Christians were living at the time was the present Mount Zion.
The ground-floor room beneath the Coenaculum contains a cenotaph that since the 12th century has been known as the "Tomb of King David" - even though the recorded burial place of the king was in the "City of David" on the Ophel Ridge (1 Kings 2:10). Beneath the level of the present floor are earlier Crusader, Byzantine and Roman foundations. An apse behind the cenotaph is aligned with the Temple Mount, leading to speculation that this part of the building may have been a synagogue, or even "the synagogue" mentioned by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux in 333.
Christian traditions also point to Mount Zion as the place where Virgin Mary had fallen asleep for the last time. On that spot, a massive Benedictine basilica, named the Dormition Abby was erected.
The Franciscans on their return to Jerusalem, built the present Chapel of the Coenaculum in 1335. The ribbed vaulting of the ceiling is typical of Lusignan or Cypriot Gothic. The sculpted mihrab, the Muslim prayer niche, was added in 1523, when the Franciscans were evicted from the building and the room converted into a mosque.
Islam also adheres to Mt. Zion and Jerusalem, because Islam claims to be the true version of Judaism and Christianity, hence both the Jewish temple and the life of Jesus Christ is theoretically a part of the history of the religion of Islam.
Mt. Zion offers a magnificent view of historical Jerusalem - the City of David, features several beautiful churches, holy sites of the Hebrew Bible & New Testament, and fortifications built by Saladin.
Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem
The Via Dolorosa is the traditional path Christian pilgrims take in the Old City of Jerusalem. Call the `Way of Sorrows, the tourist walking this route, the holiest Christian thoroughfare in the world, is symbolically reliving the events of Jesus Christ` passion. Around the Old City, Christian visitors make their way to the shrine of the Ascension on the summit of the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Mt. Zion, the site of the Last Supper.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is primary among Christian shrines in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher that marks the site of the Resurrection had, from its earliest times, been celebrated as the supremely sacred place in all of Christendom. Finished in 335 AD, the great basilica was apparently built upon the foundations of an earlier Roman shrine dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. It was during this splendid era of church construction that the tradition of Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem began. The most visited pilgrimage sites in Jerusalem were Bethlehem, where Jesus was born; Golgatha, the site of his death (and where legend says the skull of Adam is buried); the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; and the Mount of Olives, where Jesus (supposedly) ascended to heaven.
Muslim Holy Sites in Jerusalem
In Islam, Jerusalem`s historical importance is due to a tradition saying that Muhammad went on a celestial journey from the spot where the ruins of the Jewish temples was and where the Dome of the Rock later was erected.
On Mt. Moriah at the hallowed site, known in Arabic as Haram al Sharif, the 9th Caliph, Abd al-Malik, built the great Dome of the Rock between 687 and 691. Adjacent to the Dome is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Designed by Byzantine architects engaged by the Caliph, the Dome of the Rock was the greatest monumental building in early Islamic history and remains today one of the most sublime examples of monumental mosques.
The sacred foundation stone is encircled by sixteen arches that formerly came from different churches in Jerusalem, which were destroyed during the Persian occupation of the city in 614 AD.
Before you enjoy Jerusalem, you will need a safe place to sleep at. Check out Jerusalem hotels
There are no flights to Jerusalem, Israel, but to Ben-Gurion Airport only.
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