Proclaimed capital of the Kingdom of Israel 3,000 years ago by King David, Jerusalem is – three millennia later – the capital of the modern State of Israel. It is the largest single city in Israel, home to close to a million inhabitants.
The heart of Jerusalem is the square-mile walled Old City (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that contains the holy places of the three monotheistic faiths. And the heart of the heart is the Temple Mount. Beneath the turquoise tiled, golden domed Dome of the Rock is the rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and atop which both the First and Second Temples were constructed. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 – which led to the expulsion of most Jews from their homeland. In the ensuing centuries Jerusalem became holy to Christians and Muslims too, but it was the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount enclosure that became the focus of Jewish pilgrimage for close to 2,000 years. The mournful prayers of the faithful caused it be dubbed “The Wailing Wall.”
Historically divided into four residential quarters, the Old City’s historic Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim Quarters still retain the sense of their individual heritage. The Jewish Quarter, dramatically restored since the city’s unification in 1967, is home to thousands of Jewish Israelis, yeshivas, museums, ancient shopping streets and the grandly rebuilt Hurva Synagogue.
The contemporary city of Jerusalem began its growth in the mid-19th-century, and the early 20th-century buildings of central New Jerusalem are redolent of small-town and Bauhaus Europe. The modern city dwarfs the ancient walled town: elegant boulevards lead to dozens of residential neighborhoods, shopping areas, museums, the government complex that includes the Knesset (Congress) and the Supreme Court, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
City of David
Davidson Center & Jerusalem Archeological Park
Mount of Olives
Nahlat Shiva-Ben Yehuda pedestrianized quarter
Old City Gates
Tower of David Museum
Western Wall Tunnels
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME:
Bible Lands Museum
Chagall Windows at the Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center Synagogue
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Hebrew University Campuses
Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
L. A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art
Machane Yehuda Market
Menachem Begin Heritage Center
Old City Ramparts Walk
Old Yishuv Court Museum