Although Jews, Christians and Muslims hold Jerusalem in very high esteem – or perhaps because of that – several wars had ravaged this ancient city in the past and simmering conflicts over the past several centuries have tended to tear these communities apart. But the resilience of the same communities and their aspiration for living quality life, have made this holy city bounce back as a beautiful flourishing city vibrating with activities and attracting travelers for having a most enjoyable traveling experience.
Besides being a holy city, it has all the trappings of a modern cosmopolitan city. Its shopping malls are as alluring as any other global metropolis. Cultural activities take place all the year round. Its music and theater halls are always packed with patrons. Its museums are veritable treasure troves. There is no dearth of pubs, night clubs and restaurants in this holy city. Jewish rabbis and Christian priests sitting at the same table in a restaurant don’t frown at nuns in their monastic long robes, girls in mini skirts and rich Arabs shoppers in their flowing headgears walking down the street perhaps with the same purpose – shopping in roadside family-run shops.
Jerusalem has always been at the confluence of three distinct – and not necessarily conflicting – cultures. It has many archaeological sites and their styles are obviously visually different, as reflected in the places of worship and the builder’s religious beliefs. But they all used the same primary building material – the pale dolomite limestone that the Israelites have been using since time immemorial.
Archaeological structures of three major world religions are located in Jerusalem: the City of David and the Western Wall for the Jews; the Holy Sepulcher for the Christians; and the Al Aqsa Mosque for the Muslims.
Archaeologists are still carrying out their excavations in the City of David on a narrow ridge near the city. The sloping structure here is believed to be of 10th century vintage and probably was the base for a fort. A house built near it three centuries later has been partially restored.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built by the mother of Emperor Constantine in 330 AD on the location of the Christ’s burial.
Al Aqsa is one of the most important mosques for the Muslims. It was probably built with wood in the 7th century and later went through many massive structural changes and got its silver dome four centuries later.
Jerusalem abounds with many more architectural remains dating back to 5000 years from now. It will need a tome to detail them all. A traveler will need months to visit them.