No matter how hotly debated this city is –it should easily rank as one of the most intensely contested cities in the world –there is a certain sanctity and magnetism about Jerusalem that holds the seeker of spirituality in thrall.
Jerusalem has had a bloody history. The latest phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict is only the latest in a series of wars fought over this patch of land for at least 28 centuries. The first recorded fight over Jerusalem took place in the 8th century BC, when the Assyrians laid claim to it. One of the great ironies of this city is that its name translates to ‘peace’!
Jerusalem is sacred to three religions –Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jerusalem is the spiritual centre of the Jewish people. Nothing perhaps is more sacred and dear to the people who were ostracized from their land for 19 centuries, only to come together in the middle of the 20th century to form modern Israel.
All that the Jews consider the holiest symbols of their civilization can be found in today’s Israel. Whether it is the most famous of all, the remnants of the destroyed Solomon’s Temple, or the Tower of David or the Western Wall, the other name for the Wailing Wall, Temple Mount, or the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem is inseparable from Jewish life.
If it has been central to Jewish life, Christianity reveres it because it believes Jesus Christ spent his childhood here, and is where He had His last supper and was crucified. The place in which this is supposed to have taken place, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has been held holy for two millennia.
Islam believes it was in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa that Prophet Mohammed ascended into heaven. All these sites are still existent in Old Jerusalem, that too, in an area of less than one square kilometer, which combine with New Jerusalem to offer the best reason to visit it.
Today’s Jerusalem has the Knesset, the Supreme Court of Israel, Israel Museum, Yad Vashem –the memorial to the Holocaust, Museum on the Seam, International Convention Center, Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and lots of other attractions.