Welcome to Jerusalem
Few cities inspire as much passion as Jerusalem (Yerushalayim in Hebrew, Al-Quds in Arabic), rooted deep in the past and revered by three major religions.
With its pleasant, temperate climate, fine upland setting, extraordinary historical sites and world-class museums, Jerusalem fascinatingly contrasts ancient and modern, oriental and western.
The larger part of the city, including the city centre with its shopping and leisure district, is vibrant, Jewish West Jerusalem, characterized by broad avenues, busy pedestrianised streets and squares, cafes, restaurants and vivacious nightlife. Smaller East Jerusalem, predominantly Arab, is a 19th-century neighbourhood lying north of the Old City. It has a slow but chaotic pace of life, with crowded, colourful street markets.
The Old City, on the eastern boundary, is where most of Jerusalem’s main sights are found. Enclosed within awesome 16th-century stone walls, are a labyrinth of winding lanes where visitors to the city spend much of their time. The Old City is divided into quarters, named after its four major communities in the 19th century: Arab, Jewish, Christian and Armenian, and preserving those sharp distinctions to this day.
Within minutes, you may wander from calm squares where Jewish children play under the watchful eye of their mothers, to the hustle and bustle of an Arab souk, and into a tranquil Armenian garden, before arriving at the splendour of a medieval citadel.
Jerusalem came into being over 3,000 years ago as the site of the Jewish Temple. The Western (or Wailing) Wall at the foot of Temple Mount is all that survives of the Temple, destroyed by the Romans, yet it remains Judaism’s most revered place of prayer.
Extensive restoration and archaeological exploration gives astonishing insight into the structure and layout of the vast Temple in the time of Jesus. For Orthodox and Catholic Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre encloses the site of the Crucifixion and tomb where Jesus was laid, having carried the cross here along the Via Dolorosa. The Muslim’s beautiful gilded Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount is Jerusalem’s most iconic landmark, while Al-Aqsa mosque, beside it, is proclaimed Islam’s third holiest shrine.