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Westmauer und die Kuppel des Felsendoms in Jerusalem, Bild: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Jerusalem – thrice holy city

Jerusalem is not only a tourist destination: it is a pilgrimage destination and place of pilgrimage, the center of three world religions. Nowhere else do Judaism, Christianity and Islam live so close together, nowhere else is history and religion so palpable as in Jerusalem.

Jewish Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the cultural and religious center of Israel and Judaism. The area around the city was already inhabited 6000 years ago, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world. Around 1000 BC, the biblical kings David and Solomon ruled over the city. Later it was occupied by the Romans. Jesus visited Jerusalem and was sentenced to death there. In the seventh century AD, Muslim forces conquered the city and built some of Islam’s most important mosques.

Since the June War of 1967 , Jerusalem has been inhabited mainly by Jews, but Christians and Muslims – and their buildings – are also still represented.

Western Wall Jerusalem
The Western Wall, Image: JekLi / shutterstock

The most famous sight of Jewish Jerusalem is certainly the Western Wall, also known as the Western Wall. It was part of the Jerusalm Temple, which was built about 2500 years ago. Thousands of Jews come here every day to pray. Members of other religions can also walk through the sanctuary without any problems, which is why it has also become a popular tourist destination.

Not far from the Western Wall is the Temple Mount. It is the most important holy place of Judaism, and the third holiest place of Islam. The Jerusalem Temple used to stand here. In the seventh century, the Islamic Dome of the Rock was built, which is the oldest place of worship in Islam. It is richly decorated; the golden dome is particularly impressive. Attention: Access to the Dome of the Rock has only been allowed to Muslims for several years. Members of all other religions are denied access.

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Temple Mount Jerusalem
Panoramic view of the Christians, the Jewish and Muslim sacred places of Jerusalem, Image: Kyrylo Glivin / shutterstock

By the way, all these sights are located in the old town – so a visit is almost mandatory! The streets and alleys of this old part of the city surprise at every corner with interesting buildings and historical remains. That’s why it’s a good idea to just walk around, get lost in the old town and its history. By the way, most of the sights can only be reached on foot. The old town is very small – it measures only 0.9 km².

Christian Jerusalem

Mar Elias Monastery
Mar Elias Monastery, Image: Alon Adika / shutterstock

The monastery of Mar Elias was founded in the 6th century. Its Greek Orthodox architecture is just as fascinating as the view that offers itself over the whole of Jerusalem.
Another center of Christian Jerusalem, indeed of Christianity in general, is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It stands where, according to tradition, Jesus was buried. The church is almost 1700 years old, and is visited by Christians from all over the world and of all denominations.

On Palm Sunday, thousands of believers gather to celebrate the ascension of Jesus. In the New Testament Gospels, the Mount of Olives is given as the place where Christ was taken up into heaven. The hill, which is also located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is also sacred to Muslims and Jews: both religions believe that the Last Judgment will be held there.

Muslim Jerusalem

Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Image: Kyrylo Glivin / shutterstock

In addition to the aforementioned Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem is home to another important building of Islam: the al-Aqsa Mosque. It is one of the oldest mosques in the world. It was already mentioned in the Koran as a “distant place of worship”, but was not built until a hundred years later. Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven there. The mosque is also located in the old town.

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Jerusalem Today

Modernity has long since arrived, but Jerusalem is timeless. In the midst of the trendy cafés and tourist restaurants are ancient buildings, minarts and church towers adorn the city as well as multi-storey office buildings and television antennas. Backpackers and travelers mingle with believers, American fast food restaurants line up with traditional restaurants. The almost one million inhabitants and the countless tourists who find their way to Jerusalem every day make the city an extremely lively and lively place.

Since Israel is very small in area, there are several day trips from Jerusalem – e.g. to Tel Aviv. The city by the sea is considered the economic and social center of Israel, and is characterized by its beautiful beaches and first-class bars. From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv it is only an hour by car! The biblical cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth are also very easy to reach – Bethlehem is only nine kilometers from Jerusalem.

While there can sometimes be conflicts between the three religions, they live peacefully together in everyday life – if not always with each other, then at least next to each other. This multi-religious climate gives Jerusalem its very own charm, which can only be experienced so intensively in the “holy city”.

So if you want to get to know Israel, if you want to get to the source of the three Abrahamic religions, you will find no better place than Israel. The holy city makes history and religion palpable on every street corner. An experience that will remain unforgettable!