Jerusalem is the holiest place on earth for the Jews. It is currently the capital city of Israel though not internationally recognized as such. It also happens to be one of the oldest cities in the world and therefore has an illustrious history. During its history, Jerusalem was attacked, destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions. It was destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times and captured and recaptured for over 44 times.
Even before the birth of Christ, Jerusalem was a thriving city and a dwelling of many. The earliest civilization was established during 4th millennium BC. There are the oldest part of the city and the newest part of the city. The oldest part served as an abode of human civilization ever since the ancient time. A wall to protect the city was constructed during 1538 by Suleiman the Magnificent and it today signifies the boundaries of the old city.
Jerusalem is the biggest city of Israel in terms of population as well as area if the east part of the town is taken under consideration. It has a population of over 801,000 people and spread over an area of 125.1 square km or approximately 48.3 sq mile. It is spread between Judean Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea and situated at the northern tip of the Dead Sea.
The old part of the city was divided in four quarters one for each Armenian, Jews, Muslims and the Christians. According to Hebrew Bible, the city was first declared the capital of United Kingdom of Israel by the great king David in 1000 BC. Later on, King David’s son, King Solomon commissioned the structure of the First Temple of Jerusalem. The old city was declared World Heritage site in 1981 and is also listed under World Heritage in Danger.
Modern Jerusalem is stretched far beyond its boundaries and is truly a cosmopolitan city – both modern and advanced.
Jerusalem is the holiest city for the Jews. It has great religious and political significance for them. So, when they started building their own land, Israel, after World War II, they chose to remain close to the holy soil of the city.
However, Jerusalem isn’t important only to the Jews. But both Christians and Muslims too regard it as holy place. According to New Testament, it is where Jesus was crucified. Year round, Christian pilgrimages throng the city to visit the sacred place.
It is the third holy place after Mecca and Medina for the Sunni Muslims though Shiite or Shia Muslims regard Najaf in Iraq as the third holiest place.
Jerusalem today is war trodden with both Israel and Palestine trying to claim their supremacy over the region. During Arab-Israeli War in 1948, West Jerusalem was captured by the Arabs and later was recaptured and annexed by Israel. The east part, including the Old city was captured by Jordan but Israel recaptured the area during theSix-Day War and subsequently annexed it.
Israel regards undivided Jerusalem as the capital state of Israel though the international authorities don’t recognize it. According to the international community, the east part of Jerusalem is Israel occupied territory of Palestine. However, it is one political issue with no immediate solution at sight. The war is continuing for years and there has been tremendous loss of property and lives. Rehabilitation of the increasing number of Palestinian refugee is another rising political issue.
Despite political disturbances the importance of the city has grown over time as a thriving commercial and tourist destination. The government’s department of tourism is taking great care in promoting the finest of city to the world’s tourists.