During its long history Jerusalem has been destroyed, besieged, attacked, captured and re-captured. The ancient walled city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, making it the most religiously significant place in the world and an important center for Israeli tourism. Within a short walking distance of each other are attractions including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th century BC. The ancient city walls that surround the Old City were built in 1538 by Suleiman the Magnificent. In the 19th century the Old City was divided into four quarters, the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian. Each has its own character, churches and street markets. A World Heritage site since 1981, the Old City is also on a list of World Heritage in Danger sites.
Today Jerusalem is a core point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, West Jerusalem was captured and annexed while East Jerusalem including the Old City was captured by Jordan. East Jerusalem was then captured by Israel and annexed.
Notable sites in Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which contains the last five Stations of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa, is considered the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem. Said to commemorate the sites of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, visitors can see the Chapel of Golgotha, the Sepulcher itself, and a maze of ornately decorated chapels and corridors.
The City of David is home to some of the most significant Israeli sites, with finds including the underground Gihon spring and Hezekiah’s Tunnel.
Mount Zion is accessible via Zion Gate, from the Armenian Quarter, is a major site of historical and religious relics. King David’s Tomb, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and the Upper Room believed to be the site of the last supper are located here. The Temple Mount is the location of the beautiful Dome of the Rock, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.