People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3000-year history, but still today your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city will leave you speechless. More than beautiful, however, Jerusalem is a spiritual centre, holy to the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
That three religions have assigned so much importance to a solitary city makes Jerusalem one of the most fascinating places you’ll ever visit. Within a short walk of each other, you can find Christians quietly praying in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jews dancing by the Western Wall and Muslims prostrate before Al-Aqsa Mosque. Whatever your credence, it’s hard not to be swept up in the emotional tide that pulsates through these ancient streets.
Defying warfare and time, Jerusalem’s architecture remains in remarkable shape – you could spend days (or weeks) getting lost in its labyrinth of alleys and bustling bazaars. The Old City is surrounded by relics of ancient and modern times. To the south lies the City of David (the original Jebusite city). Predominately Palestinian East Jerusalem is home to consulates, museums and the Garden Tomb (the possible crucifixion site), while West Jerusalem has the Israeli capital building and a patchwork of secular and religious neighbourhoods.
Jerusalem, or Al-Quds as its known in Arabic, has an inevitably powerful effect on its visitors, breeding political activism, religious fanaticism or simply a greater appreciation of the magnificent tide of human history. A quick run through the main tourist sights won’t do it justice, so plan on staying a while, and see what it does to you.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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3 October 2010
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Israel & the Palestinian Territories guide provides a selection of literature to get you in the...
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