Jerusalem in Judaism, Christianity & Islam

With a history that dates back more than 5,000 years, Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most important cities in the world

During its history it has been conquered, destroyed, re-conquered, put under siege and rebuilt – each of these several times over.

Known historical records of Jerusalem date back to around 3,000 BC, when the Canaanites lived there. At that time, Jerusalem was but a small settlement on the hills of Mt. Moriah. Since then Jerusalem has become a place of immense importance to all three monotheistic faiths, making it one of the most significant cities in the world.

Holy for Judaism

Jerusalem has been a holy city for the Jews for over 3,000 years, a sacred bond that has never been broken despite the hardships the Jewish people have had to overcome during this city's violent history. Jewish ties to Jerusalem go back to the time of Abraham, the father of Judaism, when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Issac on Mt. Moriah.

About 800 years later, King David captured Jerusalem (which was then a small Jesubite settlement), unified the tribes and brought the Ark of the Covenant to it. David's son, Solomon, later built the Temple on Mount Moriah, placing the Ark of the Covenant inside. The most costly materials were used to create this Temple, which became the spiritual center for the Jewish people.

When King Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel began to weaken and in 586 BC the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the city and the Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylonia. After 70 years in exile the Jews were allowed to return to their Holy City and were permitted to rebuild the Second Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans, all that remained was a portion of the external retaining wall, which stands until this day and is known as the Western Wall – the holiest place in the world for Jews.

Holy for Christianity

According to the Christian faith, Jesus Christ was sentenced to death, crucified and then resurrected in Jerusalem, an act that not only became the central pillar of Christianity, but also marked Jerusalem as the holiest site in Christendom. Much later, in the early 4th century, Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire.

The Byzantine Roman Emperor, Constantine, rebuilt Jerusalem as a Christian center of worship, erecting a series of churches in the city which marked the events of Jesus Christs' last days. The church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of the Resurrection, remains at the forefront of these overwhelmingly impressive sites.

Holy for Islam

Jerusalem began to occupy a special role in Islam after Muhammad's death. In 638, Muslims gained control of the city. The new government did not anoint the city as a political center but over time Jerusalem became holy in the Muslim view, third only after Mecca and Medina.

Despite the fact that the name Jerusalem is not specifically mentioned in the Koran, it is widely believed that Muhammad ascended to heaven from Jerusalem in his Miraj, his miraculous night journey from Mecca. Commemorating the sanctity of Jerusalem, during their reign in the 7th century, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque, two beautiful sites which are extremely holy to Islam.

Jerusalem Today

Jerusalem in the 21st century is a modern, lively city. Albeit there are tensions that are existent due to Jerusalem's historical importance, but these are not felt in the daily life here – and walking around the neighborhoods outside the old city walls you discover a mosaic of people from all ages and religious denominations who are call Jerusalem home. The history of Jerusalem's developments outside the old city walls began in 1860, when residents of the overcrowded Jewish Quarter began building houses outside the walls.

Since then Jerusalem has grown into the largest city in Israel, and is home to some of the finest cultural institutions, restaurants and high education academies in the country.