Jerusalem is a major cultural center filled with great restaurants and cafes, museums, and so much more.
Of course, it also has many religious and historical sites as well. In fact, it is hard to walk most any where in Jerusalem without passing a blue historical sign.
History of Jerusalem
The history of Jerusalem spans 3000 years beginning with King David and continuing until today.
Jerusalem was once a strong and powerful city but through the ages has been and ruled by many different empires, each taking it from the one before them.
In the early as the Bronze Age King David built his capital city, The City of David, on Mount Zion. This was the beginning of Jerusalem.
Then, King Solomon expanded the city to include neighboring Mount Moriah where he built the Temple, today known as the Temple Mount.
During the First Temple period the city walls were extended to include the northwest hill as well, where today’s Jewish Quarter and Armenian Quarter are located.
The walls of Jerusalem were breached Babylonia in 587 BCE after a 30 months siege, and the Solomon’s Temple as well most of the city were pillaged and destroyed.
Then, in 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire gaining control of Israel and Jerusalem as well and the Jews were invited to rebuild the Temple.
Construction of the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple.
When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and Jerusalem and Judea came under Macedonian control. However, when he died it fell to the Ptolemaic dynasty until it was lost to the Seleucids.
The Seleucid attempt to recast Jerusalem as a Hellenized city-state came to a head in 168 BCE but Maccabean Revolt was successful and led to the Hasmonean Kingdom in 152 BCE with Jerusalem as its capital.
Hasmonean period, Jerusalem grew and the city walls were expanded.
In 63 BCE, Pompey captured Jerusalem for Julius Caesar, extending the influence of the Roman Republic.
Caesar permitted the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem, restored to the port of Jaffa, and confirmed Hasmonean rule.
His respect toward the high priest and his tolerant attitude toward the Diaspora Jews increased won him favor from the Jewish masses.
When Caesar was assassinated, he was mourned by the Jews more than by any other nation.
Then 40 BCE the Roman Senate declared Herod client king and Mark Antony ordered him to capture Jerusalem.
After his conquest, Herod beautifying the Temple and expanded the Temple Mount.
After Herod’s death, tension began to grow between the Jews and Rome.
As a result the Jews revolted and the Romans besiege Jerusalem in 70 CE.
At this time Jerusalem’s popular was at it’s peak. In addition, it was a few days before Passover and the city was filled with pilgrims.
After five months the Roman legions eventually conquered Jerusalem, plundered and destroyed Temple, and razed everything.
This was just a hard won battle that Arch of Titus was built to commemorate the victory.
Fifty years later, Hadrian vowed to rebuild Jerusalem as a gift to the Jewish people, was discouraged from doing so by a Samaritan, during a trip to Jerusalem.
Instead, he built the pagan city of Aelia Capitolina over the ruins of Jerusalem, which would be inhabited by his legionaries, and the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount.
This led to Bar Kokhba revolt, which took the Romans three years to suppress. In retaliation, circumcision was forbidden and Israel combined with neighboring provinces and renamed “Syria Palaestina”.
Also, Jews were expelled from the Jerusalem and were prohibited from entering the city on pain of death, except for one day each year, Tisha B’Av.
The Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire, and Israel became known as Palaestina Prima, but not much else changed for centuries until Jerusalem was conquered by the Arab armies of Umar in 638 CE.
The Islam began giving some prominence to Jerusalem in 623 CE, when Muslims were instructed to face the city while performing their daily prostrations. However, after 13 years, the direction of prayer was changed to Mecca.
With the Arab conquest, Jews were allowed back into the city.
When the Arab armies under Umar reached the Temple Mount site was full of rubbish, and that Arabs and Jews cleaned it.
When Jerusalem and Israel were inherited by the Umayyad Dynasty. In the late 7th century a shrine on the Temple Mount was commissioned, later to become known as the Dome of the Rock.
Over the next four hundred years, Jerusalem’s prominence diminished as Arab powers in the region jockeyed for control.
Then the soldiers of the First Crusade came and massacred most of Jerusalem’s Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, exiled the rest, and made it the capital of their Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The Crusaders recolonized Jerusalem, which had been virtually emptied, with Greeks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Georgians, Armenians, Syrians, Egyptians, Nestorians, Maronites, Jacobite Miaphysites, Copts and others, to block the return of the surviving Muslims and Jews.
In 1187, the city was wrested from the Crusaders by Saladin who permitted Jews and Muslims to return and settle in the city. However, from 1229 to 1244, Jerusalem peacefully reverted to Christian control as a result of a 1229 treaty that ended the Sixth Crusade.
In 1244, Jerusalem was sacked by the Khwarezmian Tatars, who decimated the city’s Christian population and drove out the Jews. Seven years later were in turn driven out by the Ayyubids.
From 1260 to 1517, Jerusalem was ruled by the Mamluks during which time the area also suffered from many earthquakes and black plague.
In 1517, Jerusalem fell to the Ottoman Turks, who generally remained in control until 1917.
Jerusalem enjoyed a prosperous period of renewal and peace under Suleiman the Magnificent.
This including the rebuilding of magnificent walls around the Old City which mistakenly left out Mount Zion. It is said, the architects paid for this mistake with their lives.
The Ottomans brought many innovations: a modern postal system and regular stagecoach and carriage services were among the first signs of modernization in the city.
In the mid 19th century, the Ottomans constructed the first paved road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and by 1892 the railroad (today the First Station) had reached the city.
According to the Prussian consul, the population in 1845 was 16,410, with 7,120 Jews, 5,000 Muslims, 3,390 Christians, 800 Turkish soldiers and 100 Europeans.
In the 1860s, new neighborhoods, including Mishkenot Sha’ananim, began to develop outside the Old City walls to house pilgrims and relieve the intense overcrowding and poor sanitation inside the city.
In 1917 after the Battle of Jerusalem during World War I, the British Army, led by General Edmund Allenby, captured the city.
However, the next few days after the declaration, armies of Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, and Syria attacked Israeli troops inside the area of what had just ceased to be Mandatory Palestine, thereby starting the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
As a result of the war, Israel took control of the area which later would become West Jerusalem and Jordan took control of East Jerusalem.
The 1,500 residents of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City were expelled and a few hundred taken prisoner when the Arab Legion captured the quarter on 28 May.
After the establishment of the state of Israel, Jerusalem was declared its capital city.
Jordan formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1950. However only the United Kingdom and Pakistan formally recognized such annexation, and some scholars argue that the view that Pakistan recognized Jordan’s annexation is dubious.
Contrary to the terms of the armistice agreement, Jews were denied access to Jewish holy sites, many of which were destroyed or desecrated.
Jordan allowed only very limited access to Christian holy sites, and restrictions were imposed on the Christian population that led many to leave the city.
Of the 58 synagogues in the Old City, half were either razed or converted to stables and hen-houses over the course of the next 19 years, including the Hurva and the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue.
The 3,000-year-old Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery was desecrated, with gravestones used to build roads, latrines and Jordanian army fortifications. 38,000 graves in the Jewish Cemetery were destroyed, and Jews were forbidden from being buried there
The Western Wall was transformed into an exclusively Muslim holy site associated with al-Buraq.
While many other historic and religiously significant buildings were demolished and replaced by modern structures during the Jordanian occupation.
In addition, Jordan razed the ancient Jewish Quarter as part of plans to turn it into a public park.
In 1967, despite Israeli pleas that Jordan remain neutral during the Six-Day War, Jordan attacked Israeli-held West Jerusalem on the war’s second day.
After hand-to-hand fighting between Israeli and Jordanian soldiers on the Temple Mount, the Israel Defense Forces captured East Jerusalem, along with the entire West Bank.
Three weeks after the war ended, in the reunification of Jerusalem, Israel extended its law and jurisdiction to East Jerusalem incorporating it into the Jerusalem Municipality.
Jewish and Christian access to the holy sites was restored and the Western Wall was given access to all.
Israel conducted a census of Arab residents in the areas annexed. Residents were given permanent residency status and the option of applying for Israeli citizenship.
Is Jerusalem Safe?
Absolutely! Jerusalem is a very safe city with a low crime rate.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your regular precautions.
Is Jerusalem Safe for Women?
Speaking as a woman, I feel completely safe in Jerusalem. Still, I do take precautions I learned while living in New York City.
What Religion is Jerusalem?
Jerusalem itself doesn’t have a religion and is multicultural though its population has a Jewish majority.
However, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all consider Jerusalem a holy city.
Why is Jerusalem Holy?
Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world to Jews and has been since ancient times. It is where the holy Temple stood on the Temple Mount and where we can be closest to God.
Christians consider Jerusalem holy because it’s place Jesus’ life gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Jewish bible.
Starting in medieval times Islam has considered Jerusalem a sacred site in Islamic tradition, after Mecca and Medina, since previous prophets were associated with the city.
Also, because Muhammad visited the city and it is believed that it is where Muhammad rose to heaven oh his winged horse.
Is Jerusalem near the airport?
The airport is located in Tel Aviv. However, there is a direct train from Ben Gurion Airport to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.
From the Central Bus Station you can easily access almost anywhere in the city by bus or light rail.
The Western Wall Tunnels offer a tours that follow tunnels under ground, between the houses of the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall Plaza, and extends to the end of the wall under the Muslim Quarter.
The site contains unique archaeological findings from many periods of Jerusalem’s 3,000 years of existence.
This includes evidence of Jewish settlement and government from the First Temple, 2,700 years ago.
This guided tour will bring your through archaeological sites, give historical information and context of discoveries found there.
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center are located nearby the Western Wall in the Old City.
The park contains artifacts from different periods: the First and Second Temple periods, the Byzantine period, Muslim period, the ancient Crusades period, as well as others.
The most exciting findings are: the walls of the city from the First Temple period, the steps leading up to the Temple, the original street from the time of the Second Temple period, shops, ritual baths, and more.
However, you can also walk the streets and climb the stairs pilgrims to the Temple Mount did 2,000 years ago.
The Davidson Center is a museum within the archaeological park, with presentations and exhibitions related to findings from the site.
In addition, a virtual model with local guidance will take you back in time to the days of the Second Temple.
With it, you can and walk with pilgrims on the street, buy a sacrifice, immerse yourself in the mikveh, and ascend to Temple Mount.
The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem is located in the medieval citadel known as the Tower of David.
The Museum presents Jerusalem’s story. It details the major events in its history beginning with the first evidence of a city in Jerusalem in the second millennium BCE, until the city became the capital of the State of Israel.
In addition, the Citadel itself is a fascinating archaeological site and offers a virtual reality tour.
The Wohl Rose Garden, or Wohl Rose Park, is one of the few rose parks of its kind in the Middle East, and has been proclaimed one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the world.
It features around 450 varieties of roses are grown there, many of them gifts from countries around the world.
Also displayed there are wild roses from the Land of Israel (the Dog Rose and Phoenician Rose), ancient varieties, and rare or endangered roses designated for conservation.
The Wohl Rose Park’s Garden of Nations is made up of sections donated by other countries. Each section has rose varieties characteristic of, or grown in, the respective country as well as trellises, sculptures and fountains.
In addition to some 15,000 rose bushes, the park has expansive lawns, there about 200 species of ornamental trees, bushes, and plants, an ornamental pond with aquatic plants and fish, a waterfall, rockeries, and sculptures.
Also, a sixth-century mosaic floor unearthed at Kibbutz Sde Nahum is on display in the park.
The main flowering period of the park’s roses is in the spring, from the end of April through mid May. The modern roses in the park continue to blossom through the summer and autumn seasons, until the start of winter.
The Museum of Underground Prisoners is located in the central prison during the British Mandate.
Alongside criminals, hundreds of underground warriors were imprisoned: Haganah, Etzel, and Lehi.
These were people who had been captured by the British on various actions, while fighting against foreign rule.
Guided museum tours explore the prison cells, an introduction to the story of the underground prisoners and the story of their struggle for the benefit of the Jewish population of the Land of Israel during the British Mandate.
The Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan, is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter,
While the famous section of the Western Wall is close to the south-west corner, it is actually 488-metre, or 1,601-feet long.
This smaller section is located more in the center of the wall, located approximately 170 meters north of the Prayer Plaza. However, the houses of the Muslim Quarter conceal most if of leaving only a small part exposed.
It is located near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount and almost exactly faces where the Holy of Holies was giving it religious importance.
The Herzl Museum gives visitors insight into the life and activities of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement.
The museum details his life and many contributions to the Zionist cause.
It also provides a glimpse into Herzl’s analysis of the Jewish condition, a portrayal of his ambitions, vision, disappointments and achievements, and the challenge of his legacy.
The museum is split into four exhibition spaces, three of them showing different eras of Herzl’s life. From the beginning of his life in Vienna and the Dreyfus trial, through the Zionist Congresses in Basel until his early death at the age of 44.
The highlight of the tour is the fourth room where visitors are given a view of the accomplishments of the Jewish state, despite the many difficulties and hardships.