Religious Sites

Welcome to Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and the largest city, is dedicated to the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (more details later).
Demography: As of 2004, 706,000 inhabitants lived in Jerusalem, out of whom 458,000 were Jewish, 225,000 were Muslim, and 15,000 were Christian. The rest were members of other religions, or lacked religious classification.
In days gone by, the city of Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life, and the object of longing for many Jews during the Diaspora years. From the end of the 19th century, the neighborhoods of the New City began to develop around the Old City. Today, these neighborhoods comprise the majority of the city.

Climate: The summer in Jerusalem is hot and dry, and the winter is cold and rainy. Sometimes it even snows in the city, especially in the highest neighborhoods. Click for a website that shows Jerusalem weather updates in real time, and forecasts for the next 10 days.

The City Three Religions Call Home

In Judaism, the holiness of Jerusalem derives from the religious belief that it is the place where the Creator chose to house his divine spirit. From a historical perspective, it also housed the First Temple (which dated from the beginning of the first millennium BCE) and the Second Temple (the 4th century BCE until the 1st century CE). According to Christian tradition, Jerusalem includes many sites where Jesus lived and died, such as the Via Dolorosa, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The importance of Jerusalem in the Christian faith grew with the conquest of the city by Muslims, especially during the Crusades period (the 11th century). After the Crusaders conquered the city, Jerusalem became the capital of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Today, Jerusalem is considered a holy site in the eyes of all Christian denominations, and making a pilgrimage to the city is considered to be a great privilege. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is considered to be the third holiest place in the world after Mecca and Medina. One of the titles of Jerusalem in Islam is Ola Al-Qiblatayn, the first of two directions of prayer. The origin of the nickname is that, in the early days of Islam, Muhammad instructed his followers to pray facing Jerusalem. Later, he changed this direction to face the Kaaba in Mecca. According to one interpretation, the place where Muhammad ascended to Heaven was in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount (other interpretations claim that the Mosque is placed directly between Mecca and Ta'ef, or between Mecca and a mosque that is located in Heaven). It was also the destination of Muhammad's famous Night Journey.

The Old City

The Old City in Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall, and divided into quarters – the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Most of Jerusalem's religious sites are located in the Old City (the Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Via Dolorosa). The narrow alleys in the Old City are paved with ancient stones, and filled with shops and restaurants that evoke a colorful Mediterranean market atmosphere.

The Western Wall

When the Second Temple was destroyed, its supporting walls, built during the time of King Herod the Great (37 BCE), survived. Due to the ban on visiting the Temple Mount (the actual site of the Temple), the Western Wall, which is now the site closest to the Temple’s Holy of Holies, has become a place of prayer to which Jews from around the world have come in order to cling to the remnants of their nation’s illustrious past. Throughout the generations, when Jews expressed their longing for Jerusalem through poetry, Judaica, documentation, jewelry, and prayers, Jerusalem’s image has always been etched in the form of the Western Wall.
Western Wall Website – http://www.thekotel.org/

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

A large church built on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. The church is located in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, in a place identified as Golgotha in the New Testament. It is considered to be the most important and sacred church in the world.

Via Dolorosa

Latin for the Way of Grief or the Way of Suffering. According to the Christian faith this is the path that Jesus took on his way to the crucifixion, which began at the courthouse and ended in Golgotha. It is called the Way of Suffering because of the hardships that Christians believe Jesus had to endure along this path. The Via Dolorosa begins in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter, at the Lions' Gate, and ends in the Christian quarter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Via Dolorosa includes 14 stations, including nine stations on the street itself, and five final stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.