Jerusalem is renowned as the Holy City and attracts some 3.5 million pilgrims and visitors each year. Here are some revealing facts about this ancient-modern city:
The historic connection
Jerusalem first appears in the Bible in Genesis 14:18 when Abraham met with the high priest Melchizedek “King of Salem.” The Biblical Ir Salem – or city of peace, is the most coveted and fought over city on Earth, having changed hands seventeen times throughout its history.
Genesis 22 relates the story of the Sacrifice of Issac on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. This same site served as the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Solomon and subsequently in the Second Temple. In modern times, this location is known as the Temple Mount and contains the Western (Wailing) Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Jerusalem is the wellspring of monotheism and is revered by Jews, Christians and Moslems. Today, members of all faiths enjoy complete religious freedom in the Holy City under Israeli rule.
With the exception of short periods of expulsion from the Holy City, and in spite of the long Diaspora period following the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish people have maintained a continuous presence in Jerusalem ever since King David purchased it from the Jebusites 3,000 years ago.
For centuries, Jews all over the world have expressed their desire to return to Biblical Israel by reciting “Next year in Jerusalem” in prayer.
The Zionist movement is named after Mt. Zion, the site of King David’s tomb outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Old City is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Moslem, Christian and Armenian. The wall surrounding it is four kilometers long and has ten gates. The Jewish Quarter is accessible from the Zion Gate and Dung Gate; the marketplace is in close proximity to the Jaffa Gate and Damascus Gate.
Jerusalem’s Old City has many attractions including: the Western Wall and Western Wall Tunnels, Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Tower of David Museum.
West Jerusalem is abounding with hotels, restaurants, clubs, and shopping malls; it has over 1,500 parks and public gardens and many charming residential neighborhoods.
Jerusalem has more than 2,000 archaeological sites, sixty museums, and seventy cultural centers.
The Mount of Olives has around 150,000 graves dating back to the 15th Century. Jerusalem is the focal point of the Pesasch, Shavuot and Sukkoth festivals.