A visit to the city that is sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews is one of those things you must do once in your life. There is no other city of greater religious and cultural value anywhere in the world. It is almost impossible to holier. Jerusalem is roughly divided into three main areas, namely the Old City, the Arab city (east) and West Jerusalem. Surrounded by an old wall, the Old Town is of most interest to tourists looking for history. The Old City is now a World Heritage Site, with a rich tourist offer and a lot of religious heritage of Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim nature.
Photo: Berthold Werner in the public domain
Jerusalem lies roughly in the middle of the elongated Land of Israel, on the border of the West Bank. Israel is divided into a Jewish and a Palestinian area. Palestinians live on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the rest is for the Jewish residents. Jerusalem is located on a mountain about 750 meters above sea level. The city has an area of 125.5 km² and around 760,000 inhabitants.
Jerusalem has only two different seasons compared to the English weather: the very hot and dry summer and the wetter and colder winter. In winter, the average temperature is around 8° Celsius. Very sporadically it freezes in Jerusalem and snow has also been spotted. In the summer it can get very hot in the capital of Israel with maximum temperatures of 45°C. The best time to visit Jerusalem is probably spring. Especially between April and May, when many wild flowers bloom in the surrounding region. Rainy weather occurs from the end of September, although the rains are extremely rare, even in January and February which are the wettest months, the amount of rainfall usually does not exceed 130 mm per month.
The history of Jerusalem dates back to thousands of years before Christ. One of the earliest records of the city in 1800 BC mentions the city of Ursalim. Early in history problems arose between different rulers and different peoples and that is still the case today. In Biblical times, an Israelite kingdom was eventually formed. King David made Jerusalem the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. The first temple was built under David's son Solomon. After Solomon's death, Israel was split into two smaller kingdoms, and Jerusalem remained the capital of the kingdom of Judea. The Assyrians eventually conquered both parts of the former Kingdom of Israel. After the Babylonians took Jerusalem into their own protectorate, they destroyed the temple and deported most of the Jewish population to Babel. Although the Jews returned and rebuilt their temple after the Persians conquered the Babylonian Empire, the city was but a shadow of its former self.
Alexander the Great conquered Jerusalem and the city was part of the ancient Greek Empire and a large number of theaters, temples and other monuments were built. The Jews expelled the Greeks during the Maccabee revolt. Jerusalem became the capital of the Hasmonean Kingdom, but after some members of the royal family asked the Romans to help, the Romans occupied the city under King Herod. After another change of power, the Romans recaptured the city and destroyed the second temple, which was even larger and more impressive than the first. The city eventually fell under Byzantine rule after the Roman Empire was divided into western and eastern parts. During this period in Jerusalem's history, the Christian Byzantines built new churches on the sites of the former Roman temples and did not allow the Jews into the city, except for one day a year when they allowed the Jews to mourn at the seeing the destroyed Temple Mount. This is how the tradition of the Wailing Wall was born.
Islam first arrived in Jerusalem about 700 years after Christianity, the Muslim invaders built their sacred Dome of the Rock on top of the Temple Mount and allowed the Jews to return to the city. Jerusalem is now considered the third most important city in Islam, as it is believed that Muhammad descended from heaven to the Dome of the Rock, although this is not specifically mentioned in the Quran.
Many Jews and Muslims were killed during the Crusades and the Crusaders conquered the city in 1099. What followed were several centuries of sieges, invasions and battles between the Crusaders and various armies of the Sultan. During the late 13th century, Muslims gained the upper hand. The Ottoman Empire ruled the city for nearly four centuries, and Islam was the dominant religion.
When the Ottoman Empire weakened, the Europeans took over. During the First World War, Jerusalem came under British mandate and it was not until 1948, after the war of independence in Israel, that the country was finally divided into a Jordanian eastern part and an Israeli western part. In the same year the state of Israel is proclaimed and many Jews who were scattered around the world migrate to the country. From the first moment there were great tensions between the State of Israel and the Arab inhabitants and neighboring countries. These tensions led to several wars. After the Six Day War in 1967, Jerusalem was fully claimed by Israel. Originally the city was divided between Jordan and Israel.
To this day, Jerusalem often remains in the news and the border between Israel and an as-yet-recognized Palestinian state remains in dispute. Christians, Jews and Muslims sometimes work together in the city and try to respect each other's religious rights. But Jerusalem remains firmly in the hands of the government of Israel so far, which allows Jewish settlements to be established on Palestinian land on the outskirts of the city.
Photo: Wayne McLean Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made
A must visit place in the city is the Wailing Wall or the Kotel on the Temple Mount. The wall is a remnant of the Jewish Temple that once stood there, it was the western part. That is why it is also called the Western Wall. Jews have been gathering here since 70 BC to pray. Traditionally, notes with wishes are placed between the stones of the wall. The Wailing Wall is the stage for many festive events such as Bar Mitzwas. With a bit of luck you will fall in the middle of the festive spirit.
Photo: Kenad in the public domain
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is Jerusalem's main Christian pilgrimage site. It is believed that Jesus was crucified and buried here. The church dates from 1149 and is built in the Gothic style. This holy place is well worth a visit.
Photo:Godot13 CC Naamsvermelding-GelijkDelen 4.0 Internationaal no changes made
The Dome of the Rock, with its impressive golden dome, should not be missing from this list. Like the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this is a place of great religious importance. This is where Mohammed is said to have started his journey to heaven and Abraham is said to have sacrificed his son here. Believe this or not, the Dome of the Rock is an exceptionally beautiful building and well worth seeing. The dome was built in 691 and Quranic verses can be found on the walls. The ceiling painting is also very worthwhile.
Photo:Martin Furtschegger Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made
The Holy Tomb of the Virgin Mary is located in a church, which is just one of a series of monuments that stood on this site to protect the 1st century tomb. Visitors can access the tomb of the Virgin Mary via 50 steps, which also provide access to the resting place of Queen Melisjes and a chapel built in memory of Mary's parents
Photo:Yair Haklai Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made
A highlight of any trip to the city is a visit to the number one cultural attraction, the Israel Museum. With over 500,000 artifacts, including the world's oldest manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as many Jewish relics, the Israel Museum is housed in a number of buildings. Of particular note is the sculpture garden with works by Henry Moore.
Photo:Hynek Moravec Creative Commons Attribution - Sharing onder dezelfde voorwaarden 3.0-licentie (niet omgezet) no changes made
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum is a moving memorial commemorating the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. The purpose of the museum is educational, but there is something macabre about it. The history of this event is kept alive through interesting exhibitions, works of art, artifacts and a leading research center.
Many suspect that Jerusalem is very unsafe and it cannot be denied that the risk of attacks is higher than in Londo, for example. But there are indeed areas where it is relatively safe. The Old Town, where most of the sights can be found, is considered safe.
Whoever thinks that in a city with many religious sights there is nothing to do at night is wrong. In Jerusalem you can go out until the early hours. Every night there is a different happening in a club or disco in the city. The terraces in Ben Yehuda are also very cozy.
Photo:Gilabrand at en.wikipedia Krea Komunajo Atribuite 3.0 Neadaptita no changes made
When in Jerusalem you absolutely have to eat real Israeli falafel for once. That is different from the versions of this sandwich in the United Kingdom. You can get a pita with the vegetarian balls, made from chickpeas, all over the city. You won't have to search long to find a tent.
Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more informationLast updated April 2021
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