Jerusalem is the religious centre of the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and it is the capital city of Israel. It is located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Jerusalem is one of the most ancient cities in the world.
There are top 10 interesting things about Jerusalem:
- Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel, and its history dates back to over 3000 years. Jews are indigenous to Israel, and hence to Jerusalem. Since the 10th century BCE, when King David made Jerusalem the capital city, it became the geographic centre of the Jewish Nation. For many centuries, Jerusalem kept its role as the capital city of Jewish kingdoms, the holiest site of Judaism, and the historical heart of Jewish politics.
- Jerusalem is the centre of Jewish culture and civilization whose destruction by the Roman empire, which is depicted in the Arch of Titus in Rome, and restoration are recalled in many Jewish customs and holidays. For example, at weddings, the breaking of the wine glass occurs while reciting the sentence in Hebrew: “If I forget you, Oh Jerusalem, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth”, which commemorates Jerusalem’s destruction as well as Tisha B’Av, a fast mourning day. The Western Wall, i.e. Wailing Wall or Kotel, is the only remnant of the Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism.
- Jerusalem as well, has essential importance for Christians and Muslims because it contains their sacred sites revered by billions of people worldwide. For Christians, the holiest sites in Jerusalem are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden Tomb, and the Garden of Gethsemane.
For Muslims, the most religious sites in Jerusalem are the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, the third most sacred mosque in Islam after the mosques of al-Haram in Mecca and al-Nabawi in Medina.
- Through the centuries, Jerusalem has been invaded and ruled by several empires.
- After the declaration of independence of Israel on May 14, 1948, the Arab Legion of Jordan, led by British officers, attacked the Jewish community in Jerusalem. After tough fights, on May 27, the Arab Legion’s seized the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem in the Old City because of their significantly better army and amounts. The Jordanians expelled all the Jews from the Old City and other neighbourhoods; then, they got robbed by Palestinians. Subsequently, for the next 18 years, Jerusalem was a city torn by minefields and barbed wire.
- Till 1967, Jordan occupied the eastern area of Jerusalem, and Jews could not live in the Old City because it was forbidden to them.
- Throughout the Jordanian domination, Christians could access their holy sites. The only limitation was restricting the number of Christian pilgrims allowed to enter the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter. Christian religious institutions and charities could not buy any real estate in Jerusalem. Christian schools were strictly controlled and obliged to teach the Qu’ran to all their students.
- In the period of the 1967 Six-Day War, after Jordan attacked Israel, the Israeli army freed the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian domination. The Jewish Quarter was totally destroyed and dilapidated. Starting from 1967, Israeli Jews regained control of the city, and every religious member had religious freedom and free access to their holy sites in Jerusalem, where there are more than 50 churches and 33 mosques nowadays. This religious freedom never occurred under others’ sovereignty during all the history of Jerusalem.
- The Jewish population increased in Jerusalem starting in the 1800s, and since 1864 it became a majority. Previously 1948, the Jewish communities were living in eastern and western Jerusalem. After 1967, the Jewish population counted 197 thousand residents and the Palestinian Arab 68 thousand inhabitants. Nowadays, there are almost 500 thousand Jews and 300 thousand Palestinians.
- Jerusalem is the biggest city in Israel, and it became a prominent cultural centre with 70 art institutions, 60 museums, 30 annual festivals, 1500 public gardens, 26 wineries, and an annual marathon. Every year, 3.5 million tourists visit this beautiful and fantastic city.