Jerusalem, capital city of Israel
For more than 3,000 years, Jerusalem has dazzled and inspired visitors. You will leave the city speechless whether it is your first visit or your fiftieth. The beauty of the ancient walled city is wondrous, but its spiritual value to three great faiths, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is immeasurable. The Israeli capital is easily one of the most fascinating places on Earth because of this history. On just a short walk, you can see Christians kneeling in prayer at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Muslims bowing in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews congregating near the Western Wall. An emotional tide pulsates through the streets, and few visitors can resist getting swept up in it.
The golden Dome of the Rock is one of the most enduring symbols of Jerusalem. Sacred to both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, the dome covers a sacred slab of stone where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son and Mohammed left Earth for Heaven to be alongside Allah. Built between 688 and 691 AD and later remodeled twice, the building is covered with verses from the Quran and a bright confection of mosaics. The rock lies in the center, protected only by a wooden fence, and the steps below take visitors to the “Well of Souls.” The dead are said to congregate there twice each month to pray. Although the mosque is usually open only to Muslims, some non-Muslim visitors are able to enter by paying a small fee to the guards.
Thousands of pilgrims trod to the Temple Mount every year. There are few places in the world considered as holy as the Temple Mount, or Haram ash-Sharif to the Muslims. The Talmud claims the site was where the foundation stone of the world was laid, and the first Jewish Temple was built there 1,000 years before Christ. In the 7th century, Mohammad led prophets in prayer at the site after traveling to Jerusalem in a single night from Mecca. Today, the area is a peaceful contrast to the surrounding neighborhood with its open plaza, ancient paving stones and groves of cypress trees.
The Western Wall is another incredibly significant religious sight in Jerusalem. Constructed as a retaining wall to support the Temple Mount over 2,000 years ago, the Western Wall became a holy place itself after the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The faithful prayed at the Wall and vowed to never desert it. Today, a great open-air synagogue operates in front of the Wall. Black-garbed Hasidic Jews bob their heads in prayer, worshippers kiss the Wall's stones and a large crowd comes at sunset on Friday to celebrate the arrival of Shabbat.
Biblical history comes alive at the Mount of Olives, where Christians believe God will redeem the dead on the Day of Judgment after the Messiah returns. It is also the world's oldest cemetery, and more than 150,000 people are buried on the sloping grounds.
Other must-see sights in Jerusalem include the Damascus Gate, the City of David, the Souq al-Qattanin market, the Mosque of the Ascension, the architecturally stunning Mamluk buildings, the underground Hezekiah's Tunnel, the garden of Gethsemane, the grave of Oskar Schindler, the spectacular Sorek Caves, the Zion Gate, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish Quarters, the Bible Lands Museum, King David's Tomb, the Jaffa Gate and the Shrine of the Book, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Jerusalem Geographical Location
Jerusalem is located in the Judean Mountains in the central region of Israel. It is the religious center and has a population of approximately 790,000 people.
Hebrew and Arab are the official languages of Israel. Arab is used frequently in Jerusalem’s Muslim quarter and English is very common as a second language.
Jerusalem Predominant Religion
- 64% Jewish
- 32% Muslim
- 4% Christian
The religious demographics of Jerusalem vary from the national demographics due its religious significance. Jerusalem’s old city is divided into four quarters: Muslim, Christian, Armenian, and Jewish.
The Israeli New Shekel is the official currency used in Jerusalem.
There is typically no rain during the summer months in Jerusalem but during the winter it can rain for up to half the month and occasionally experiences snow. The temperature is normally warm all year but can become cool in the winter.
Jerusalem Main Attractions
- The Wailing Wall
- Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
- Old City of Jerusalem
Other Attraction in Jerusalem
- Israel Museum
- Mount of Olives
- Dome of the Rock (al-Haram al-Sharif)
- Hezekiah’s Tunnels