Sacred to billions all over the world, Jerusalem might be simultaneously the most controversial and most mystical place in the world.  Sacred to all of the various sects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, Jerusalem has a long and contested history, as each religious tradition traces at least part of their lineage through the city.  The city itself is a wonderful juxtaposition between old and new, ancient and modern, and traditional versus contemporary.  Found throughout the city is the old wall that divides the city into four sections according to ethnic and religious group.  Jerusalem has been an inhabited city for over three thousand years, with the Egyptians engaging in commerce with the oldest layers of the city.  Clean archaeology, however, will never be possible given the amount of sacred spaces and architectures existing inside the city.

Jerusalem, Israel

flickr image by Lily 34430

From the Judeo-Christian perspective, probably the earliest and most interesting place of interest is the Western Wall, the only remaining piece of the old First Temple of King Solomon.  The Temple’s significance dates back to King David from three thousand years ago.  David enlarged the city of Jerusalem from a small village of Canaanites to a large capital city of ancient Israel.  His son, Solomon, expanded the city further.  Moses’ Ark of the Convenant once rested in Solomon’s Temple but is now lost in time.  Textual sources describing the now ruined Temple are detailed enough that a proper reconstruction could take place if given the opportunity.  However, such a partisan construction project would be unlikely to get past the Muslims who control the site of the Temple Mount.


flickr image by dvaldi

The Dome of the Rock, built over top the Temple Mount, is the third holiest place in all of Islam, behind Mecca and Medina.   Glistening under the hot sun all day, the luminous golden Dome dates back to the 7th century, thus making it one of the oldest examples of Muslim architecture in the world.  The Dome marks the spot where Mohammed ascended to heaven and where he offered his own son Isaac to God.  One of the most interesting features of the Dome’s architecture are the large quotations from the Koran written on the walls in beautiful calligraphy, a feature scarcely found on any Muslim architecture in the world.


flirkr image by Emmanuel Dyan

For Christians, Jerusalem is the site where Jesus Christ lived and died.  According to the New Testament, Jesus was convicted of treason and sentenced to crucifixion.  Believers have rediscovered one possible path that Jesus took through the city while carrying his own crucifix before his death.  The sacred path, known as the fourteen Stations of the Cross, ends with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the supposed site of Jesus’ crucifixion and later ascent to heaven after his body died.  Jerusalem is certainly a moveable feast for a member of any of the various religious traditions associated with the old city.  Getting to Jerusalem is easy as it is the capital of modern Israel.  One can fly, bus, or take a train into the city and from there access any of the luscious features that pop out around every corner.

Date posted: 12th February, 2014

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