Read about the city

Jerusalem is one of the world's great historical and cultural travel destinations, and throughout the city you can find and experience places and buildings from not least the rich Bible history. Unforgettable things are almost every corner in the old city center.

For most, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the tomb of Jesus will be the most important and memorable of the many sights. The church contains Calvary and also contains the very grave where Jesus was laid after the crucifixion. As a prelude to the Church, you can walk the Via Dolorosa between the place where Jesus was sentenced to death and the place where he was buried.

There are many other places with importance to the life of Jesus; for example the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives and the place for the Last Supper, where Jesus had his last meal the day before the crucifixion. For 2,000 years, believers have pilgrimaged to these places.

Among other unique sights is the holy Temple Mount of the Jews, where the Wailing Wall forms part of the Western Wall, which dates back to Herod's Second Temple. Hezekiah's Tunnel extends farther back and is an underground construction from the time of King David.

Everywhere in Jerusalem's ancient city behind the walls and gates, there are sights to explore. Narrow streets, markets, small squares, evocative churches and much more. To the west of this is modern Jerusalem with Jaffa Road as one of the main shopping and strolling streets. It is also in this part that Israel's interesting National Museum with the Dead Sea Scrolls is located.

Other attractions

Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem

  • Jaffa Gate/שער יפו: Jaffa Gate is one of the eight city gates located in the historic defense walls of Jerusalem, which surround the Old City. The gate is to the west and it is named after the port city of Jaffa.
  • St. James's Cathedral/קתדרלת יעקב הקדוש: This cathedral is located in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, and it is also the main church of the Armenian-Apostolic Church in Jerusalem.

Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem

  • Hurva Synagogue/בית הכנסת החורבה: Hurva Synagogue is one of the most important synagogues in Jerusalem, and it has had a tumultuous existence through the 16th century, when it was the main synagogue in the city.
  • Al-Aqsa Mosque/מסגד אל-אקצא: This is one of two mosques standing on the Holy Temple Mount of the Jews in the center of Jerusalem. The mosque was built at the end of the 630s and is like the Dome of the Rock not accessible to the public.

Cardo, Jerusalem

  • Cardo/הקארדו: Cardo is a street in Jerusalem and it is also the general name for the north-southbound main street of the ancient Roman cities and colonies; thus also in Jerusalem, where some parts are preserved.
  • Church of Pater Noster/כנסיית אבינו שבשמים: Pater Noster Church is a Catholic church on Mount of Olives east of the center of Jerusalem. The church was built in the place where the scriptures tell that Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer.

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

  • Mount of Olives/הר הזיתים: The Mount of Olives is a ridge east of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and it is famous from its biblical references. The name of the mountain comes from the many olive trees that grow here. For several thousand years, there has also been a Jewish cemetery on the slopes of the mountain.
  • Getsemane Garden/גת שמנים: Getsemane Garden is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the area immediately east of the Temple Mount. This is where Jesus found himself praying the night before His crucifixion.

Mary Magdalene Russian Church, Jerusalem

  • Church of Mary Magdalene/כנסיית מריה מגדלנה: The Church of Mary Magdalene is one of Jerusalem's most distinctive buildings. It is a Russian Orthodox church whose golden domes shine beautifully in the Israeli sun.
  • The Shrine of the Book/היכל הספר: The Shrine of the Book is the Israeli National Museum's script department. Here you can see a number of writings from the Middle Ages and the most famous, which are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Israel Museum, Jerusalem

  • Israel Museum/מוזיאון ישראל: The Israel Museum is a magnificent museum that opened in 1965 as the country's national museum. The museum depicts Israel's society and history in many ways, and it is one of the leading archaeological museums in the world.
  • Knesset/הכנסת: Knesset is the name of the Israeli parliament and as such the legislative part of the country's government. The Knesset adopts all laws and appoints the President of Israel.
History overview

    Read about city history

    The founding of the city
    It is believed from archaeological finds that the first settlement of present-day Jerusalem occurred somewhere between 3500 and 4500 BC. It happened near the water resources of the Gihon source.

    In Egyptian writings, the city is mentioned around the year 2000 BC, and this is the earliest known testimony to the existence of the settlement.

    Through excavations, large buildings have been found dating back to around 1700 BC, where, among other things, the city's water system had been protected by walls. A few hundred years later, Jerusalem had become a vassal state for Egypt, whose gathering had enabled an expansion to the Levant, where the Canaanites lived, among others, in Jerusalem.

    King David's Israel
    The time of the Israelites begins biblically around the year 1000 BC, when David conquered Jerusalem and made it his city in a new kingdom of Israel. There are various theories about how David's army entered the city, and one of them is via the Gihon source's waterway to the city.

    With David as king, the city of David was established on a ridge just south of the Temple Mount, where David's son Solomon built the First Temple of the Jews for the Ark of the Covenant. The temple was built in the same place as David's first altar, and it was the focal point of the city. With the King's residence next to it, the place was the absolute center of power.

    From the end of Solomon's reign in the latter half of the 9th century BC the Kingdom of Israel is believed to have been divided into several kingdoms, of which Judea continued to have Jerusalem as its capital.

    Throughout the following centuries, Jerusalem faced difficult times, with repeated sieges and lootings affecting the city's population, its treasures and its buildings. The attacks came from, among others, Philistines and Syrians. During this time, however, Jerusalem manifested itself as the dominant religious center, and the city became the target of many pilgrims.

    Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians
    In 701 BC besieged Assyria Jerusalem, which stood firm. Others in the area had not done the same, for in the year 721 BC conquered Assyrians Samaria north of Jerusalem. It had led to a lot of people fleeing from Samaria to Jerusalem, which was expanded for this reason.

    However, Jerusalem was besieged and attacked in 597 BC. of Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, who captured the king of Jerusalem Jehoiachin and instead imprisoned Zedekiah. Zedekiah led a rebellion against Babylon in 587-586 BC, and it ended catastrophically for Jerusalem, which was recaptured by the Babylonians. In addition to the military victory, the First Temple of the Jews was burned and the city walls were leveled with the ground. A portion of Jerusalem and Judea's people then chose to flee the ruined capital to Egypt, while others were taken captive in Babylon.

    In 539 BC conquered Persia under the leadership of Cyrus the Great Babylon's kingdom, and with it came Jerusalem. The Persians later allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their ruined temple, thereby standing the Second Temple erected on the Temple Mount in 516 BC. In the 400s, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt and the city had regained its former glory.

    The Greek Age
    Under Macedonian Alexander the Great, Greek culture came to Jerusalem. It happened with the conquest of the Persian Empire and thereby Judea and Jerusalem in 332 BC The Greek influence became considerable and it ended with a rebellion against the regime.

    This led to the time of the Hasmonean dynasty. They ruled Judea from Jerusalem from the year 140 BC, and a few decades later their kingdom expanded to include Galilee, Samaria and other regions to the north. In 63 BC Jerusalem was subject to the Republic of Rome, but the time of the Hasmoneans was not over yet; it first happened in 37 BC when Herod came to the throne.

    Herod's Jerusalem and Judea
    Herod the Great reigned from 37 BC to the year 4 BC He had first become governor of Galilee before being appointed king of the Roman Senate.

    With Herod as king, much was built. For Jerusalem, it was a large-scale expansion of the Second Temple on the Temple Mount, for which Herod became best known. The Temple Mount plateau itself was greatly expanded, and strong retaining walls were built for the purpose; some of these today form the Wailing Wall. The temple itself became an impressive edifice with pillar-lined construction around a central and distinctive temple for the Ark of the Covenant; The Most Holy.

    Herod's temple in Jerusalem was part of the king's building activities. He also established the large port city of Caesarea Maritima with palace, forum, temples and more to the northwest. Herod also built a winter palace in Jericho to the west, and it was also he who established the impressive fortress Masada on the southern part of the Dead Sea.

    Jesus' Time
    Among the many biblical sites of Israel, Jerusalem is among the most significant. This is where many events surrounding Jesus and his disciples took place, and these places have been pilgrimages for many since then.

    The most important story was and is the story of Jesus' suffering, where the places in Jerusalem include the places where the Last Supper was consumed, the Father was said as a prayer, and where Jesus was taken prisoner. Good Friday was the day Jesus was sentenced to death and had to carry the cross to Calvary, where he was crucified and buried. These sites are all marked by crossroads on Via Dolorosa and the Tomb Church itself, which was built over the very Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.

    Subsequently, it was also in Jerusalem that Jesus' resurrection and ascension took place. Finally, it was also here that the Holy Spirit appeared at Pentecost.

    The destruction of Jerusalem
    Herod's Caesarea Maritima had become the administrative center of the Roman province in the region, and after Herod's death in 4 BC. Judea and Jerusalem came under direct Roman rule with, among other things, prefects and procurators.

    Over the years, the Jews came in increasing opposition to Roman rule, and it brought more revolts and Judeo-Roman wars. The First Jewish-Roman War took place in the years 66-73, and the reason is believed to have been religious tensions.

    For the Jews and Jerusalem, the war was yet another disaster. The result was a Jewish defeat at Masada in the year 73, and that event ended the war. Meanwhile, Jerusalem had been destroyed by the armies of Titus, who destroyed Herod's Second Temple on the Temple Mount and other in the city.

    Other uprisings were fought in 115-117 and 132-135 respectively. The latter is also known as both the Second Jewish-Roman War and Bar Kokhba's uprising. The uprising was led by Simon Bar Kokhba, who was considered to be leading Israel to freedom again. A Jewish state also came out of the effort, but this existed just two years before a large Roman army crushed the Jews' defense.

    With the Bar Kokhba uprising, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, and the Jewish people were generally dispersed in connection with these Roman wars more than they were before. It was time to go before 1948 before being allowed to return home altogether.

    The Romans and the Byzantines
    After fighting the Jewish uprising in 135, the Romans rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman city. It was Emperor Hadrian who had already visited the city for 130 years and looked at the ruins of the destruction of 70 years.

    Hadrian changed the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina, and the town plan of the now so-called ancient city was laid out according to Roman system. The main streets of Cardo and Decumanus were built, and where they crossed, a Roman forum was established; the city marketplace. Hadrian also had a Jupiter temple erected in the place where Jesus was crucified and where the tomb church is today.

    Jerusalem's new Roman city provided access to the Jews only one day a year for prayers, thereby effectively reducing the city to a Roman provincial city, which lasted to Emperor Constantine Is's time in the 300s.

    Constantine converted under the influence of his mother, Saint Helena, the Roman Empire into Christianity, and this affected not only Rome but also Jerusalem. The city was now made a Christian place of pilgrimage, and the centerpiece was the Church of the Tomb, which Constantine had erected.

    The Roman Empire eventually eroded, and its control of Jerusalem also diminished over the centuries in such a way that Persians occupied the city in 614. However, the Persian era lasted only 15 years before Christian Byzantine armies were able to recapture Jerusalem in 629.

    The first Muslim era
    After the establishment of a Muslim Arab caliphate, Jerusalem was one of the first cities to be conquered by the caliphate. It happened in 638, and shortly after, the Al Aksa Mosque was built on Temple Mount. Later in the 600s, the Rock Mosque was also built, which happened over the foundation stone of the Jews, where Abraham is believed to be sacrificing Isaac.

    The Jews again gained access to Jerusalem and to pray here with the Muslim government. Generally, the first centuries of this period were a time of growth and development of Jerusalem.

    The era of religious freedom stopped in the early 1000s when large-scale Muslims began tearing down churches. Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered all churches destroyed and this was an act that helped Europeans to regain Christianity.

    The Crusaders
    The Muslims' first time as gentlemen in Jerusalem ended in 1099, when European Crusaders re-entered the city in the sign of the cross. With the Crusaders, Jerusalem became the capital of a new kingdom of the same name, and both Jews and Muslims were thronged with the new Christian kings and leaders.

    The Crusaders recreated Jerusalem as a Christian pilgrimage town, and they built the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher in a new Romanesque edition that still stands today. Both the Al Aksa Mosque and the Rock Mosque were decorated as churches with the names Solomon's Temple and the House of God. In the Temple of Solomon, the city's royal comforts were also decorated.

    In the 1100s, many Christians went on pilgrimage again to Jerusalem, which in 1129 experienced a royal wedding, with the important Queen Melisende coming on the throne of Jerusalem. Melisende brought with her flourishing times, and she was the one who beautified the city, erecting St. Annæ Church and the Grave Church in her new and beautiful Crusader edition.

    The time of the Crusaders ended in 1187 with the defeat of the Muslim Saladin who attacked the city and wanted to kill all its inhabitants. The Christian defenders put an ultimatum on collective suicide on the demolition of the mosques on Temple Mount, and Saladin even gave up and reinstated religious freedom in the city. Crusaders returned to Jerusalem twice between 1229 and 1244, but beyond that the city faced a new Muslim period; this one will last until 1917.

    Most notable was the time of 1229, when Frederick II as a German-Roman emperor pressed a sharing agreement with Saladin's heirs. The agreement secured peace for ten years at a Muslim relinquishment of Jerusalem with the exception of the Temple Mount. Frederick's soldiers decorated the city's citadel, and the emperor held a large ceremony in the Grave Church, where he surrounded by German soldiers manifested Christian oversight over Jerusalem and the world. The pope, however, blamed Frederick for his self-sufficiency, which caused him to leave town.

    Different dynasties reign
    After Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, different dynasties came to power before the Ottoman era began in 1517.

    In connection with the two Crusader times of the 13th century, when Jerusalem came under the German-Roman emperor, the city walls were torn down by the Muslims and rebuilt by the Christians.

    In 1244, ravaging armies of Tatars rode into the city sent by Saladin's rival Muslim descendants. They plundered and killed several thousand Christians, destroying the stone on Jesus' tomb to destroy Christian Jerusalem, which was reduced to a less significant city again. That was the status when the Egyptian Mamluk Sultans' time as ruler of the city started in 1259.

    During the Mamluk era, there was a relatively long quiet period compared to the previous centuries. It was a time when religions thrived side by side in a sense; For example, the Franciscan Order gained a significant position and function for Christianity in the area with some monks and missions. The Franciscans also acquired the place where the Last Supper was held, and thus Christian pilgrimage sites could be maintained.

    The Ottoman Empire
    The Turkish Ottomans conquered Jerusalem in 1517, and a new development for the city was initiated under Sultan Süleyman. It was during this time that Jerusalem's impressive city walls were erected around an expanded city, and this facility once again strengthened the city's position in the region.

    Religiously, Ottoman rule meant freedom for Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the city there were synagogues, churches and mosques, so the religious tensions of the past had been limited.

    Financially, as a sultan, Süleyman had initiated a fine development in the city, but with the following sultans the growth and economy of stagnants began.

    Jerusalem was and remained a small city in the great kingdom over the centuries, and up to the 19th century there lived only about 8,000 inhabitants of the city, who, like others in the Ottoman Empire, felt the beginning decline of the kingdom. The city was within the old city walls, and it was divided into neighborhoods for Jews, Christians, Armenians and Muslims respectively. Central to the first three groups was the administration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher together with other Christian groups. Their disagreements over deciding in the church prompted the Sultan to establish an agreement on joint administration and agreement on changes, which put a damper on both strife and renovation of the church.

    The 19th century was not only a century of stagnation; There was also a significant international interest in the city from the European side. European powers sought a greater influence in the area in anticipation of Ottoman collapse. It was also a time when there was a Christian renaissance in the form of missionaries and the archaeological search for the Christian history of the city. In addition, Jews in increasing numbers came from, for example, Eastern Europe to the city.

    All in all, these things, together with the usual technical and economic development of opportunities, gave rise to a new Jerusalem that was expanding to the west and thereby beyond the old city walls. A Russian building complex was established on the road to Jaffa, and several Jewish neighborhoods also arose, and these areas grew more and more together, eventually forming Jerusalem's so-called new city. At the end of the century, the railway also came into being, and it connected Jerusalem with the port city of Jaffa, to which many Jewish immigrants arrived in increasing numbers.

    The Ottoman era ended with the Turkish defeat of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

    The Mandatory years
    On December 11, 1917, British General Edmund Allenby came to Jerusalem after defeating the Ottoman armies during the war. Allenby came on foot out of respect for the Holy City.

    The result of the Ottoman decline was a British international mandate to administer the region. Jerusalem was expanded at this time with separate neighborhoods for Jews and Muslims, and the British mandate was characterized by increasing religious tensions. It came to the pogrom against Jews in Jerusalem in 1920, which created an increased Jewish awareness of being able to defend themselves. Muslim anti-Jewish rebellions repeated in 1929 and again in the 1930s, and together with them the Jewish national feeling for a Jewish country was strengthened.

    British time was also a period that led to the establishment of several new institutions. Hospitals, administration buildings and the Hebrew University were built on Mount Scopus, which remains in this location.

    The United Nations division plan and the State of Israel
    Tensions and struggles increased in volume and character throughout the 1940s, and in 1947 the UN presented an internationally negotiated plan to divide the British mandate into two separate states; a Jewish and an Arab. The two states would each consist of several major parts that would be connected in corridors. Jerusalem was thought to be the Corpus Separatum to be controlled internationally.

    The planned division sparked fights, and especially about Jerusalem, which would accommodate a Jewish population completely surrounded by an Arab state. The Muslims launched a siege on the Jews' territories in Jerusalem, and Jews found transport routes through the mountains for supplies and defenses against the Arabs.

    An Arab-Israeli war became a reality, and it was fought until the end of the British mandate in May 1948. Population groups were moved between Jewish and Muslim territories in Jerusalem during the war.

    David Ben-Gurion declared the State of Israel in Tel Aviv, and West Jerusalem became part of Israel, while East Jerusalem and the Old City were occupied and annexed by Jordan. The Jordanians destroyed synagogues in their parts of Jerusalem causing major international protests; it took down, among other buildings, the Hurva synagogue, which has since been rebuilt. Similarly, mosques were decaying in West Jerusalem, and some were demolished with cause in urban development. This period ended with the Israeli parliament Knesset promulgating Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 1950.

    1967 to the present
    With the Six Day War in 1967, Jordan was forced away from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which had also been occupied since 1948. Old and East Jerusalem has since been merged into a city that makes up the capital of Israel. The Temple Mount with the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock stands as an administrative exception, as the area is governed by a Muslim organization.

    With the merge of Jerusalem under Israel, the majority of religions have gained access to their places of pilgrimage; Jews to the Wailing Wall, Christians to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Muslims to the Mosques on Temple Mount.

    Today, Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side in Jerusalem as part of democratic Israel. Negotiations have been ongoing since the 1947 plan for solutions to administrative matters in the region, which is still happening. However, as a city, considerable development can be clearly seen with new neighborhoods, high-rise buildings on the periphery and a new high-speed railway between the capital and Tel Aviv. A light rail now also rolls through the city, connecting several neighborhoods of old and new Jerusalem, which together have a population of more than 800,000.
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Jerusalem, Israel

Top attractions

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

  • The Wailing Wall/הכותל המערבי: The Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall, is a preserved part of the Western Support Wall for the Second Jewish Temple, which historically was at the top of the Temple Mount behind the Wall. The wall is the holiest place where Jews can pray, and it got its name from the Jews' complaints about the destruction of the holy temple.
  • Temple Mount/הר הבית: Temple Mount is the name of the central hill of Jerusalem, where the first two temples of the Jews were built. The importance of the Temple Mount in the Jewish faith is due to the fact that it is considered the abode of God on earth.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre/כנסיית הקבר הקדוש: This church is one of Christianity's most important places. It is a church that was built in the very place where Jesus was crucified, Calvary. Jesus was also buried here, and the tomb is located under the dome of the church.
  • Dome of the Rock/כיפת הסלע: Dome of the Rock is one of Jerusalem's most famous buildings. It is an octagonal mosque with a gold dome, which was built on the Temple Mount at the site of the now historic holy Jewish temples.

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem

  • Via Dolorosa/ויה דולורוזה: Via Dolorosa is probably the most famous street or route in Jerusalem. It represents the path Jesus walked through the city on his way to the cross. You can follow the interesting course of the street through central Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Trips in the area

Tel Aviv, Israel

  • Tel Aviv/תל אביב-יפו: The beautiful and beautifully located Tel Aviv is a big city with skyscrapers, pedestrian streets, shopping malls, museums and large parks and a long sandy beach as well.
  • Caesarea/קיסריה: Caesarea is the name of a former Roman port city, from which you can see finely preserved ruins on the Israeli Mediterranean coast. The excavated site extends over a larger area behind Caesarea's defense walls.

Masada, Israel

  • Masada/מצדה: Masada is one of Israel's absolute top attractions, and this is immediately understood by a visit here. Masada is a stronghold established on a 400 meter/1,300 ft high cliff top in the Negev desert overlooking the Dead Sea.
  • Dead Sea/ים המלח: The Dead Sea is a saltwater lake located on the border between Israel and Jordan. The lake is known for its high salinity and for being the lowest point on the earth's surface.

Jericho, Israel

  • Jericho/יריחו: Jericho is a city located between Jerusalem and the Jordan River. It is believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Jericho is known from the Bible in connection with the Israelite migration.
  • Bethlehem/בית לחם: Bethlehem is a city whose history dates back at least to the 1300s BC. The city is located just south of Jerusalem, and it is not least known as the place where Jesus was born.

Haifa, Israel

  • Haifa/חיפה: Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel and the country's third largest city. Haifa is beautifully located on the Mediterranean coast and at Mount Carmel, on which many of the city's neighborhoods extend up to with great views.
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Shopping
  • Hamashbir Lazarchan, Zion Square
  • Malha Mall, Malha
  • Hadar Mall, Pierre Koenig Street
  • Mamilla Mall, King David Street
  • Center 1 Mall, Jaffa Road, Yirmiyahu Street
  • Shopping streets: Jaffa Road, Ben Yehuda Street, King George Street, Via Dolorosa, Muristan
With kids
  • History, Jerusalem Time Elevator, 37 Hillel Street
  • Science, Bloomfield Science Museum, Hebrew University, Givat Ram Campus
  • Museum, Israel Museum, Shmuel Stephan Weiz Street, www.imj.org.il
  • Botanical Garden, Botanical Gardens, Hebrew University
  • Zoo, Tisch Family Zoo, www.jerusalemzoo.org
Practical info