Jerusalem, The Holyland
What has not already been said about the holiest city in the World, the city that has been united, the eternal city first built thousands of years ago, whose history can be heard in the whispering of the wind along the walls, where every stone tells a wondrous story of a city that has drawn millions of faithful pilgrims for thousands of years. Such is Jerusalem, the holy city of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the only city in the World that has 70 names of love and yearning, the city that in old maps appears at the center of the World and is still adored like a young bride.
Jerusalem is a city of overwhelming emotions, a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience, excitement and pleasure, interesting tours and entertaining adventures. Here, alongside Jerusalem's fascinating historic and archeological sites, there are amazingly modern tourist attractions for all lovers of culture, the arts, theater and music, architecture and gastronomic delights.
Archaeological excavations show the history of the city began over 5,000 years ago. Among its 220 historic monuments are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Al-Aqsa mosque, Dome of the Rock built in the seventh century which stand as magnificent pieces of architecture, and the Western (Wailing) Wall.
The city has been known by different names through its history: Urusalim, Jebus, Aelia Capitolina, the City, Beit Al-Maqdis, and Al-Quds. Jerusalem's sites and long history present an exceptional testimony to vanished civilizations: the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mameluk, Ottoman periods.
The old city of Jerusalem and its walls is one of the best-preserved medieval Islamic cities in the world. It is divided into four main quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. The old city has been home to many diverse cultures, which are reflected in the architecture and planning of the city and its sacred buildings, streets, markets, and residential quarters. Today, Jerusalem's living traditions continue, making the city the heart of human history.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Preserving the most holy sites of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this church is the holiest of shrines for the world's Christians. Situated in the Old City's Christian Quarter, the church was first built in the fourth century by Constantine's Mother Helena, over the site of a pagan temple built during the Roman period. Also re-built over successive generations, the present structure was built by the Crusaders in the twelfth century, and contains the last five Stations of the Cross. It also contains the Chapel of Golgotha where Jesus was crucified, the Sepulcher itself where Jesus was buried, and the Chapel of Mary Magdalene where the risen Christ first revealed himself.
Al-Aqsa Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa)
Also known as the al-Haram ash-Sharif (the noble sanctuary), the grand mosque includes in its compound the Dome of the Rock. This mosque is the third holiest shrine for Muslims, after the Kaaba in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. With rows of colonnades and gardens, the compound stretches over one-fifth of the Old City, occupying a vast area of 140,9002 meters. The mosque itself is silver-domed, and was built as a place of worship next to the Dome of the Rock. Originally built between 709-715 AD by Caliph Walid Ben Abdul Malik, al-Aqsa was reconstructed at least six times and very little of the original mosque remains in the present structure.
The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat As-Sakhra)
Situated in the Old City's Muslim Quarter, It marks the spot where the Prophet Mohammed ascended into heaven following the miraculous journey of one night from Mecca to Jerusalem. known as the Israa and Meraj. It is also the oldest and most exquisite Muslim shrine in the world. Built at the end of the seventh century by the Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik Ben Marwan, the mosque has a rectangular octagon exterior and a specular gold-covered dome.
The Garden Tomb
Located outside Jerusalem's city walls and close to the Damascus Gate, the simplicity, beauty, and peaceful atmosphere of the Garden Tomb makes it a favorite spot for prayer and meditation.
Some Christians find worshipping near the rock-hewn tomb helpful as they seek to relive the crucifixion and resurrection experience, since it gives a clear picture of what the place of crucifixion and burial must have looked like at the time of Jesus.
The Western Wall
The Western Wall or Kotel is a focus of Judaism, a symbol of a people and a nation. This massive stretch of wall seen today by visitors and Jewish pilgrims, is believed to be a large segment of the sustaining wall of the Western side of the Temple Esplanade, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by Titus in 68 BC. Jews come here from allover the World to bemoan the destruction of their Temple. Among the customs observed by Jewish pilgrims who pray below this great, two thousand years old, stone blocks is that of leaving, in the cracks between the stones, little pieces of paper with vows and prayer written on them.
Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross)
The traditional route that Jesus followed as he carried the cross from the Antonia fortress where he was condemned to death, to the Calvary, where he was crucified. The walk is commemorated in fourteen stations: two are located at Antonia, seven in the streets of Jerusalem, and the last five inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.