Jerusalem’s Old City with 5,000-years of history is considered sacred to more than one-third of the world's population.
Jerusalem has for thousands of years been the spiritual and devotional center for Jews, and for many, the intellectual and emotive center of their nationhood.
Jerusalem has also, for the last 2,000 years been the venerated location of the formation of Christian faith -- the sites where Jesus of Nazareth died, was buried, and was resurrected. A famous Renaissance map shows the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe as the leaves of a clover meeting in the holy city, a reality at once spiritual, historical, and (almost) geographically accurate. This map can be found at the Archaeological museum in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has also been recognized as the masjad el aqsa, the "farthermost place," in the Islamic faith from which the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven for his significant meeting with God. Jerusalem stands behind Mecca and Medina as the 3rd lmost important cities for the Islamic faith. There is an Islamic tale that suggests that the great rock of Jerusalem's Mt. Moriah, site of the onetime Jewish Temple and present Dome of the Rock, is made of stones from the Garden of Eden.
The walled Old City of Jerusalem should be the highlight of any visit to Jerusalem. The Old City encompasses four residential quarters (Christian, Jewish, Armenian, and Muslim) and the enormous Temple Mount. The Old City is a beautiful mix of exotic sights, sounds, smells, cultures, and antiquities.
Modern Jerusalem is a lively city (not quite as urbane as Tel Aviv). Step outside the Old City and you'll see a large city of about 700,000 people -- with a number of good restaurants, concert halls, small musical and art venues, markets, and high-quality stores, as well as charming neighborhoods that recall an earlier and simpler lifestyle. Jerusalem makes an effort to keep consistent with its origins. There is a municipal bylaw making it mandatory to face even high-rise commercial buildings with the "Jerusalem stone," the local golden limestone that has served Jerusalem's builders for thousands of years. Indeed, it is quite a sight to behold when one sees these limestone buildings glow golden in the sunset.
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