Jerusalem, the capital and biggest city in Israel is one of the most popular destinations for tourism and vacation. Without a doubt, the city is among the most beautiful in the world. Interestingly, Jerusalem is also among the most extraordinary tourism sites because it is able to harmonize a unique mixture of colorful culture, ancient history and spiritual sanctity. It is the only city in the world that is considered holy by the three greatest monotheistic faiths, namely, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
The fact that three major religions have designated much significance to the solitary Jerusalem brings about makes the city truly the most fascinating and amazing place you could ever visit. It is in this land where you could find Christians praying quietly in the Holy Sepulcher Church while Muslims prostrate in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque not from afar, and Jews dance by the Western Wall. Regardless of anyone’s credence, it could be hard to resist being swept up by the emotional tide pulsating through the city’s ancient streets.
Founded about 3,000 years ago by the Bible’s King David, Jerusalem is more than a fascinating city as it is beaming with diversities and contrasts. It is a unique city where the holy and the secular, the old and the new and the pure nature and pretty architecture mix with balance to produce a wonderful and enchanting harmony of sights, sounds and smells.
The city defies warfare and time. Its architecture is remaining in a very remarkable shape. You could actually spend days, weeks or months being lost in the labyrinth of bustling bazaars and alleys, and mind you, you certainly will not give much damn. Jerusalem, to some tourists, is also providing an influence for breeding religious fanaticism, political activism and a better appreciation of the human history. If you want to make the most out of any vacation or tour in Jerusalem, it will be better if you will plan to stay for a long while to see how the city could instill a change in you. A quick tour of the popular sights and destinations definitely will not do any justice.
The Israeli city sits comfortably at the southern portion of a plateau within the Judean Mountains. The entire city is surrounded by dry riverbeds and valleys. During the biblical times, the area was surrounded by thick forests full of olive, pine and almond trees. However, because of centuries of negligence and destructive warfare, those forests were ruined and flattened. Stone terraces were then built by farmers to prevent soil erosion, which later influenced the city landscape.
To the west of Jerusalem could be found the Mediterranean Sea and another Israeli city, Tel Aviv. On the opposite site could be found the Dead Sea, which is noted as the lowest water-body in the world. Surrounding towns and cities include Beir Jala and Bethlehem in the south, Mevaseret Zion in the west and Abu Dis in the east.
A Mediterranean climate prevails over Jerusalem. It has dry and hot summers and surprisingly wet and cool winter. Occasionally, snow could fall lightly during winter season. January is often the coldest month, when average temperature could drop to as low as 8°C. On the contrary, July to August are the peak summer months, when the heat scorches. Vehicular traffic and congestion mainly accounts for much of the air pollution.
The Canaanites lived in the site of the city as way back as 2,500 BC. King David made Jerusalem a city capital of his great kingdom. His son and successor King Solomon made the first ever Temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant. In 586, the Babylonians conquered and destroyed the city along with the Temple and then exiled Jews to Babylonia. Persia’s Cyrus the Great freed the Jews 50 years later, enabling the people to rebuild their sacred Temple.
In the 4th century, when Catholicism was legalized and spread by the Roman Empire, the city was instantly turned into a Christian pilgrimage center. Many Christian shrines, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, were constructed. In 638, when the Turks controlled Jerusalem, the Temple was replaced by a Dome of Rock mosque. Crusaders took back and held Jerusalem in 1099.
Great Britain occupied the city in 1917, making it the capital city of Palestine in 1923 until 1948. The conflicts between Arabs and Jews started in the period. The United Nations in 1948 called for an internalization of Jerusalem, which was rejected by Muslims. In 1949, the city was divided into a Jordanian and Israeli sectors.
Tourism is obviously an important industry in the city. Religious pilgrims and attractions to religious landmarks remain the driving force that activates the inflow of tourists from all over the world. The Old City is particularly popular among vacationers. It is here where there are shops that sell interesting foodstuffs, novelty souvenirs and traditional handicrafts. Most of the important religious and cultural landmarks are concentrated in the Old City.
Palestinian East Jerusalem is where tourists could find museums, consulates and of course, the Garden Tomb, which is believed to be the actual crucifixion site of Christ. The west of the city contains the capital building of Israel, as well as numerous religious and secular neighborhoods.
Most of Jerusalem is composed of archaeological sites. Every structure reflects history and cultural or religious importance. The varied and distinct architectural styles blend numerous cultures and historic eras. There could be no dull moment in this Israeli place.
Jerusalem is more than a venue where you could travel back in time. More importantly, it is also a vibrant and thriving modern city. Jerusalem is exciting and energetic with its lively commercial malls. Cultural activities remain interesting at theaters and museums.
For thrill seekers, the city is also teaming with entertainment. Daily, tourists and locals could interact in the numerous restaurants, pubs and night clubs. There is a unique ambiance even in hangouts made from renovated old quarters. Tourists from all walks of life, religion and status certainly could relate to what Jerusalem has to offer.