A spiritual and rich history attracts people of all faiths.
By Nicholas Sterling
Panoramic view of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is a mystical city that inevitably amazes and excites its visitors. As you wander through its winding streets admiring its churches and synagogues, you become aware of exciting historical events that are an important part of the history of mankind. Benjamin Disraeli, the preeminent British Prime Minister, described it well: "The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world, indeed, is the history of Earth and Heaven." He was right, since its origins date back to the fourth millennium BC, making it one of the world's oldest cities.
Under various empires
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
It is considered the holiest city in both Judaism and Christianity. Throughout its rich history, the metropolis changed leadership several times, as it was ruled by the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Sassanid Persian Empire.
Jerusalem has been the spiritual center of the Jewish people since 1,000 years before Christ, when David, king of Israel, made it the capital of the Jewish nation and his son Solomon commissioned the building of the first temple in the city.
In 638, the Islamic Caliphate extended its dominion to include it, because for Muslims, Jerusalem is the third center of Islam after Mecca and Medina. After the Arab conquest, Jews were allowed to return to the city, which became their domain until the time of the Christian Crusades.
Jerusalem is a holy city for the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Places not to be missed
Such a glorious past has left deep roots in this ancient metropolis that is a monument in itself, but also has numerous memorable landmarks.
Start by visiting the Wailing Wall, the only remains of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Roman legions of Emperor Titus, 70 years after the birth of Christ. This wall is considered a remembrance of God and how the Jewish people have endured and survived their enemies throughout history. Three times a day the Jews gather around the wall to pray. Many believe that these prayers ascend directly to heaven.
Overlooking Jerusalem, discover the Mount of Olives, a wooded hill with a breathtaking view of the Old City and a place that vividly evokes the life of Jesus. Upon entering the Old City through the Zion Gate - one of the eight gates of Jerusalem - you will discover the old town with the Jewish quarter and its wonderful main street dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
One of the most important sites in the Christian quarter is the "Via Dolorosa", The Way of Sorrows. It commemorates Jesus’s agonizing journey to the cross and the place where the Holy Sepulcher is located called Golgotha in Aramaic. According to the Gospels, it is the exact spot where the Messiah of Christianity was crucified, buried and later resurrected.
Other places not to be missed include the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book. The latter houses the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found.
An unforgettable experience is to visit Masada, an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated atop an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert. It is a symbol of the resistance of the Jewish people before the diaspora. The Siege of Masada by Roman troops lasted seven months, and rather than surrender, its inhabitants preferred to commit suicide.
The Wailing Wall is the holiest site of the Jewish people.
Whatever your religion or belief, these are all places worth visiting, where you will find spirituality, history and an awe inspiring mystical experience.
Photos copyright: www.goisrael.com ■
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