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Jerusalem Israel: History of Jerusalem Holy Sites

Jerusalem - The City of Gold

“Ten portions of beauty, God gave to the world;
nine to Jerusalem and one to the remainder.”

Situated high in the Judean Mountains, Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world, presenting a unique combination of history, spiritual sanctity and intriguing cultures. Jerusalem is one of the most famous cities in the world, being a holy site of all three major religions. Built by King David three thousand years ago, it has played a major part in the history of the world. Both Jewish temples were built in Jerusalem, and it was the location of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as well as the place where Mohammed made his ascent to heaven. Modern Jerusalem reflects the intensity of its history in the myriad of cultures juxtaposed one upon the other in this special city.


Jerusalem's history stretches back about 5,000 years, and the city has been sought after by many. About 2500 BC, the Canaanites inhabited the city. Then King David captured the city (c.1000 BC), he made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom. Later, King Solomon built the first Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, led his army into Jerusalem and captured the city in 597 B.C.E. He deported thousands of Jews and razed the city to the ground. Fifty years later (537 BC), CYRUS THE GREAT of Persia conquered Babylonia and permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. Persia held the city until 333 BC, when Alexander the Great added Palestine to his empire. Alexander the Great introduced Greek culture and ideals – Hellenism which was forced on the Jewish population... The Jews rose up in 167 B.C.E. behind Mattathias and his five sons and fought for their liberation. Three years later, Jerusalem was recaptured from the Greeks by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah. The Roman Empire invaded Jerusalem in 63 BC. The Romans set up a local dynasty, the house of Herod, to rule most of Palestine. During the reign of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ was tried and executed in Jerusalem. A major Jewish revolt against the Romans led to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. Again, Jews were banished from Jerusalem. The city grew under Roman and Byzantine rule and developed as a center of Christian pilgrimage. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and many other Christian shrines were erected during this period. Later the city was captured by the Muslims and apart for a short period during the Christian crusades stayed under Muslim rule until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The British took control of Jerusalem in 1917 and it became part of the British mandate imposed on Palestine. In 1948 during Israel’s war of independence, Jerusalem was besieged by the Arab legions and when the fighting ended the city was divided between Israel (the western city) and Jordan (the eastern city and the old city). During the Six Day War in 1967 the Jordanians were pushed eastward past the Jordan River and the city was untied under Israeli rule.
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Modern Jerusalem
Today Jerusalem is a diverse and bustling city. As Israel’s capital it houses the Israeli house of parliament (Knesset) as well as most government offices. Many neighborhoods in the city are occupied by Ultra orthodox Jews (Haridim) who maintain a special and distinct lifestyle. The eastern city neighborhoods are mostly Muslim Arab or Christian Arab, and posses a special Middle Eastern feel. Jerusalem also boasts a modern and unique cinemateque, overlooking the old city. Many fine restaurants and cafes are scattered throughout Jerusalem’s old neighborhoods, catering to every taste.


Special Sites
Jerusalem holds many attractions for the tourist apart from the holy sites. The Israel Museum has many collections of fine art and is the holding place of the Dead Sea scrolls. The Yad VaShem Museum is the central memorial site for the Jewish holocaust during WWII. The vista from the Haas Promenade is a world known attraction, and the neighboring German Colony neighborhood has a European feel. Other attractions include: The Mormon Church on Mt. Scopus, Ein-Karem, the Ben Yehuda Midrachov, Augusta Victoria church, the Museum of Islam, Har-Hertzel and many, many more.

There are no flights to Jerusalem, Israel, but to Ben-Gurion Airport only.

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