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Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Jerusalem, Israel, Middle East

Founded: c. 4000 bc
Location: The Judaean hills, about 30 km (20 mi) from the Jordan River
Flag: Blue horizontal stripes on a white field, with a blue and yellow emblem in the center.
Time Zone: 2 pm = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: 70% Jewish; 30% Arab
Elevation: 757 meters (2,484 feet) above sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 31°47N, 35°15E
Climate: Subtropical, semiarid; warm, dry summers; cool, rainy winters
Annual Mean Temperature: January 9°C (48°F); July 23°C (73°F)
Average Annual Precipitation: 500 mm (20 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Monetary Units: New Israeli Shekel (NIS)
Telephone Area Codes: 02 (Jerusalem area code); 972 (country code for Israel)
Postal Codes: 9000 and up

1. Introduction

Located east of the Jordan River in the Judaean Hills, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and its largest city in terms of both geographical area and population size. A holy city for three of the world's major religionsJudaism, Christianity, and IslamJerusalem has a long and tumultuous history, during which it has been home to people of many nationalities and faiths. Reunified since 1967, Jerusalem is really three cities in one: the historic walled Old City that is home to its holy places, the modern urban center to the west, and the Arab district to the east. In addition to being Israel's spiritual, political, and administrative capital, Jerusalem is also a leader in education and health care, and its religious, historical, and cultural attractions make it the country's premier tourist destination.

2. Getting There

Jerusalem lies 48 kilometers (30 miles) east of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the north, south, and east by the West Bank of the Jordan River, occupied by Israel since the Six Day War in 1967. Israel's border with Jordan is 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the city.


Route 60, the main north-south highway, cuts through the middle of Jerusalem, leading to Nablus to the north and Hebron and Beersheba to the south. The major east-west highway, Route 1, leads northwest to Tel Aviv and eastward to Jordan, first intersecting with Route 90, which in turn leads north to Jericho and beyond to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. The Allon Road traverses the Judaean Desert, leading to Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Bus and Railroad Service

Intercity buses from points throughout Israel, including Ben Gurion International Airport, arrive and depart from the Egged Central Bus Station on Jaffa Road. There is also bus service to Cairo, Egypt, and Amman, Jordan. There are separate bus stations for destinations within jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. There is train service to Tel Aviv, continuing to Haifa, leaving from the train station in Remez Square.


Ben Gurion International Airport is located 50 km (12 mi) west of Jerusalem along Route 1 leading to Tel Aviv. Of the approximately 5 million passengers who use the airport every year, more than 40 percent travel on flights operated by El Al, Israel's national airline.


Jerusalem is not a port city.

3. Getting Around

The modern municipality of Jerusalem, as defined by its post-1967 borders, lies between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives to the east, Hadassah Medical Center to the west, and past Jerusalem's municipal airport to the north. Within these boundaries is the historic, walled Old City, which forms a rough quadrilateral measuring about 900 meters (3,000 feet) on each side. Seven gates lead to the twisting, narrow streets of the Old City, which is divided into Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. To the west, the Jaffa Gate provides the main access to the modern Jerusalem, while the Damascus Gate is the main entryway to the Arab enclave of East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Population Profile

Population: 3,738,500
Area: 109 sq km (42 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 70% Jewish; 30% Arab
World population rank 1: approx. 68
Percentage of national population 2: n.a.
Average yearly growth rate: n.a (Tel Aviv 1.98%)
Nicknames: The Holy City

  1. The Jerusalem metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Israel's total population living in the Jerusalem metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Egged Bus Cooperative, which offers inter-city bus transportation, also provides transportation within Jerusalem itself. Bus service is frequent, punctual, and reasonably priced, with a flat fare for all local bus rides, no matter how short or long. Private Arab companies provide service to the West Bank.

There is no real commuter rail service, but shared taxis called sheruts, which seat up to seven passengers, are a popular mode of transport in the city.


Egged, which provides most of the city's public transportation, offers an introductory tour of Jerusalem that takes in 36 major tourist sites and allows visitors to embark at any of them and board another bus later at no extra charge. Egged also offers half-day bus tours of the Old City and of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Walking tours are a popular way to see many of Jerusalem's historic sites. Tours of both the Old City and the newer part of Jerusalem are offered by Zion Walking Tours. Archaeological Seminars walking tours focus on the historical periods of the first and second temples, and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) offers tours of the Old City as well as nature hikes in the nearby countryside.

4. People

Jerusalem is one of Israel's most populous city, and its population continues to grow rapidly thanks to a high birth rate and the arrival of new immigrants, many of them from the former Soviet republics. Since 1986, the city's population has grown by 28 percent, with peripheral neighborhoods, such as Manchat and Pisgat Ze'ev, recording the greatest increases. At the end of 1996, Jerusalem's population was 602,100, and it is expected to reach 650,000 by 2000.

As of 1996, Jews accounted for 70 percent of the city's inhabitants, with Arabs making up the rest. Of the city's Arabs, 92 percent were Muslim and eight percent Christian. Because of Jerusalem's large non-Jewish and Orthodox Jewish populationsboth of which tend to have large familiesyoung people account for an unusually large percentage of the city's population: in 1996, 44 percent of the population was aged zero to 19 (including 13 percent aged zero to four) while only eight percent were senior citizens.

5. Neighborhoods

Jerusalem consists of three main areas. The city's great holy and historic sites are found in the walled Old City, home to the Muslim Dome of the Rock, the Christian Church of the Sepulchre, and the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple. To the west lies the modern, predominantly Jewish city of Jerusalem, also called the New City, the political and administrative capital of Israel. To the east of the Old City lies East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the city, which was cut off from the rest of Jerusalem between Israeli independence in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967. The former dividing line, known as the Green Line, is now called HaShalom Road. Besides hotels and restaurants, East Jerusalem, whose main streets are Nablus Road and Salah ad-Din Street, is home to many retailers and other small businesses. Further east is the Mount of Olives. To the north lie Mount Scopus, the main campus of Hebrew University, and Hadassah Hospital.

The heart of the New City is the triangle formed by King George V Street, Jaffa Road, and Ben Yehuda Street, the site of numerous hotels, restaurants, and cafes, and the popular gathering place Zion Square. Just to the north lies Mea She'arim ("One Hundred Gates"), home to Jerusalem's ultra-orthodox community (or, as they are known in Israel, "Haredim"), whose distinctive appearance and way of life evokes the vanished world of their Eastern European forebears in the days before World War II (193945).

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Jerusalem Cairo Rome Beijing
(Israel) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 3,738,500 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded c. 1453 BC AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $184 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $76 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $19 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $279 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 14 13 20 11
Largest newspaper Al-Quds Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 40,000 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1932 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

The district of Giv'at Ram to the west is home to several notable landmarks, including the Israel Museum, the Knesset (parliament building), and the Supreme Court. In an area further to the west are Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum; the tomb of Israel's founding father Theodore Herzl (18601904); the famous Chagall stained-glass windows of the Hadassah Medical Center; and Ein Kerem, a former Arab village that was the birthplace of John the Baptist (fl. c. 27).

Among the city's residential districts outside the downtown area are Yemin Moshe (the first settlement developed outside the city walls in the nineteenth century), Talbiye, Rehavia, Bet ha-Kerem, and the "German Colony," built by the German Templars in the nineteenth century. Arab neighborhoods outside the Old City include ash-Shaykh Jarrah, Wadi al-Joz, Bayt Hanina, Bayt Safafa, and the American Colony.

6. History

With a history extending over some 4,000 years, Jerusalem has been inhabited longer than almost any other city in the world and has had a long succession of rulers. Its first recorded connection with the Biblical kingdom of Israel occurs in the middle of the second millennium B. C. Around 1000 B. C. , King David (c. 1013c. 973 B. C. ) made it the capital of a united Israel. It also became the spiritual center of the Jewish nation when David's successor, King Solomon, built the First Temple 50 years later. Within the next thousand years, the city was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B. C. ) and the Romans (A. D. 70), who rebuilt it yet once more under the name of Aelia Capitolina in A. D. 130.

After a period of Byzantine rule, Jerusalem was conquered by Muslims in the seventh century and remained part of the Islamic world for more than 1,000 years, with an interruption of about a century after it was captured by Crusaders in 1099. Four hundred years of rule by the Ottoman Empire began in 1517 and included the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (15381566), who oversaw major rebuilding of the city. After his reign, however, the condition of Jerusalem declined, and it gradually fell into a state of neglect. A revival of European interest in the Middle East in the late eighteenth century led to the building of consulates and other public buildings.

The Crimean War (185356) in the mid-nineteenth century also led to some new interest in the region and more development. This period also saw the beginning of new settlement by European Jews, beginning with the purchase of land outside the city walls in 1855 by Sir Moses Montefiore. By 1900 there were 60 Jewish settlements surrounding the old city. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I (191418), Jerusalem was captured by British forces under the command of Gen. Edmund Allenby (18611936) and, together with the rest of Palestine, placed under British mandate by the League of Nations. During this period, Jewish immigration to the city increased, resulting in escalating tensions with Palestine's Arab neighbors. In its 1947 partition plan for Palestine, the United Nations proposed turning Jerusalem into an internationally administered city, but Arab forces rejected the plan and laid siege to the city.

The British left Palestine on May 14, 1948, and the state of Israel was proclaimed. The following year, Jerusalem was declared its capital, and it became the seat of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). The Old City and East Jerusalem, occupied by Arab forces during the Israeli-Arab war that followed the proclamation of Israel's independence, remained under Arab control until 1967, and East Jerusalem was declared the second capital of Jordan.

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli forces annexed the Old City, and all of Jerusalem was placed under Israeli rule. Since that time, extensive preservation and restoration have been carried out in the Old City while the newer part of the city has been expanded by the addition of new housing developments. This expansion has made Jerusalem Israel's largest city. In 1980 the Israeli government confirmed the official status of Jerusalem as the nation's capital.

7. Government

As the capital of the state of Israel, Jerusalem is the seat of its government and home to all government institutions, including the parliament, or Knesset, and the Supreme Court. At the local level, Jerusalem is governed by a mayor and city council whose members are elected to four-year terms. Although Palestinian Arabs living in East Jerusalem have the right to vote in Israeli elections, they have refused to do so in accord with their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli government.

8. Public Safety

In spite of the ever-present threat of terrorism due to Arab-Israeli tensions, Jerusalem is statistically safer than virtually any large city in the United States and many elsewhere in the world. In 1997, the city had a total of 22 deaths from terrorism and 16 non-terrorist-related murders. The streets of western Jerusalem are generally populated and safe at night. It is a common observation, applicable both in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, that traffic congestion and aggressive driving are a greater threat to the personal safety of both drivers and pedestrians than street crime.

9. Economy

As the political, religious, and scholarly capital of Israel, Jerusalem's economy is based on service industries, including government, education, religion, and tourism, with manufacturing playing a relatively small role. Preservation of the city's historic character has also prevented the establishment of large-scale industry in the city and the surrounding area.

In 1996 Jerusalem's civilian work force numbered 188,500, of whom two-thirds were employed in service-sector jobs. Jerusalem has a highly educated work force, bolstered by an influx of well-educated immigrants. But due in part to the number of Orthodox Jewish and Muslim families with single-income households, the percentage of Jerusalem's overall population in the labor force is relatively low compared to Israel's other major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. In addition to the smaller work force, the economic status of Jerusalem's residents is further lowered by the fact that the public-service jobs held by many residents pay less than jobs in such fields as manufacturing, commerce, and financial services. The average monthly salary for wage-earning families in Jerusalem is significantly lower than that of families in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Jerusalem also has a higher incidence of poverty than the two other major cities. In 1996 as many as 21 percent of the city's families lived below the poverty line, including 40 percent of the city's children. In the 1990s, the number of families receiving public assistance rose steadily, reaching 32,600 households by 1996.

10. Environment

Jerusalem lies on the watershed between the hills and desert of Judaea. It has varied vegetation with as many as 1,000 different plant species. About 70 bird species are present year round, as well as 150 types of migratory fowl. The shoreline of the nearby mineral-rich Dead Sea, located in the Syrian-African Rift Valley, is the lowest point on earth.

11. Shopping

Jerusalem offers two distinctly different types of shopping venues: modern malls and department stores in the western part of the city and the Arab markets of the Old City. In the west, the major downtown shopping area is the central triangle formed by King George, Ben Yehuda, and Jaffa streets, home to two urban shopping malls and the city's major department store, Hamashbir. The most upscale shopping, including most commercial art galleries, is found on King David Street, and the Nahalat Shiv'a neighborhood is known for its selection of arts and crafts. Further afield, there is Jerusalem's largest suburban shopping center, the air-conditioned Kanyon Mall in the Malkah district.

The most colorful shopping experience to be found in Jerusalem, however, is afforded by the crowded, bustling market stalls (or suks ) of the Old City, where haggling with merchants is the rule and can reduce the initial asking price of an item by over one-half. A large selection of souvenirs is available for visitors of all religions, including many items that incorporate olive wood, silver, and turquoise. Ceramics are another of the many specialty items available in the market stalls.

12. Education

As Israel's center of scholarship and religion, Jerusalem has a highly educated population, even exceeding the relatively high national average of the nation as a whole. Approximately 36 percent of the population over the age of 15 have had over 13 years of education, and 19 percent have had more than 16 years. (Among the Jewish population, these figures rise to 45 percent and 24 percent respectively.)

Given Jerusalem's high number of large families, the city has an unusually large population of school-aged children, numbering some 160,000. Of these, 65,000 are ultra-Orthodox children whose education is overseen by a separate Ultra-Orthodox Educational Department, and 24,000 are Arabs. Education for non-Orthodox or Modern Orthodox Jews is administered by the Jerusalem Education Authority. The following combined school enrollment was recorded in 1997: kindergarten, 25,427; primary education, 64,278; high school, 42,699; Arab students at all levels, 24,272; total, 159,403.

Hebrew University, founded in 1925, is Israel's most prestigious post-secondary institution. Almost 23,000 full-time students are enrolled at its regular campuses at Mount Scopus and Giv'at Ram, its medical school at Ein Kerem, and its agricultural college at Rehovot. The university, which has 1,400 senior faculty members, is the site of nearly 40 percent of all civilian research carried out in Israel. Other colleges in Jerusalem include the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Hebrew Union College, and the Rubin Academy of Music. Al-Quds University, a national Arabic Palestinian university, is the only Arab University in Jerusalem. It was originally established in 1984 by the merger of four colleges in Jerusalem and its suburbs.

13. Health Care

Jerusalem's best-known health care institution is the Hadassah Medical Organization, which operates hospitals at Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus. The 700-bed Ein Kerem Hospital is known for pioneering work with in vitro fertilization, bone marrow transplantation, laser surgery, gene therapy, and other areas. With 300 beds, the Hadassah Hospital at Mount Scopus serves the Jewish and Arab population of northern and eastern Jerusalem, providing facilities which include a physical rehabilitation center, a neonatal intensive care unit, and a hospice to care for the terminally ill. In 1998, the two hospitals recorded a combined total of 72,893 hospitalization, 250,952 outpatient visits, 22,068 major surgeries, and 114,992 emergency room admissions.

Other hospitals in Jerusalem include Sha'are Tzedeq, which specializes in meeting the needs of Orthodox Jewish patients; Biqur Holim; al-Maqasid al-Khayriyah, a Muslim hospital; St. John's Ophthalmic Hospital; and Ezrat Hashim, a psychiatric facility. The Magen David Adom ("red star of David") and the Red Crescent, counterparts of the Red Cross, provide supplementary emergency services to the city.

14. Media

Only one daily newspaper for the Jewish community is published in Jerusalemthe English-language Jerusalem Post (published every day except Saturday). This traditionally left-wing paper, founded in 1932 by the Jewish labor movement, has favored the right politically since its purchase in 1990 by the Canadian-based Hollinger media franchise. The bi-weekly Jerusalem Report provides in-depth English-language coverage of local, national, and regional events. The free monthly publication Your Jerusalem provides helpful entertainment listings and restaurant reviews for both visitors and residents. Several Palestinian publications, both dailies and weeklies, originate in Jerusalem, including the weekly Biladi, which is sold in East Jerusalem and the Old City.

Jerusalem is home to the headquarters of the Israel Broadcasting Association, which operates two public television stations. There are also two Arabic-language television stations, an independent commercial station, and over 50 cable channels available. National Radio 1 broadcasts news bulletins and current affairs programming. Radio programs from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and the Voice of America are also available.

15. Sports

Sport is a somewhat problematic issue in Jerusalem, where the high-pro-file ultra-Orthodox community opposes it as a secular pursuit. However, construction of Israel's national soccer stadiumthe Teddy Stadium, named for former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek (b. 1911)was finally completed in 1992 despite ultra-Orthodox opposition. It is located in the Jerusalem suburb of Malkah. For those who are sports fans, the two favorites are soccer and basketball. The city's premier soccer team is Betar Jerusalem, which won its league's championship in 1993 and 1997 and competed for the European Cup. The city's basketball team is Hapoel Jerusalem, which plays home games in the Goldberg Sports Hall at the Teddy Stadium.

16. Parks and Recreation

Jerusalem's parks, gardens, forests, and other cultivated open areas are maintained by the Jerusalem Foundation, founded in 1966. The city's largest parks are Independence Park (Gan Ha'Atzmaut), centrally located in the downtown area of west Jerusalem, and Sacher Park, located further west, near the Knesset. Sacher Park is connected with a wooded area known as the Valley of the Cross. Directly opposite the Knesset is the Wohl Rose Garden, containing some 650 varieties of roses. Liberty Bell Park, which contains an exact replica of the U.S. Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, is a popular site for recreational activities and also has an amphitheater.

Southeast of the city, the Haas Sherover Promenade, between Abu Tor and East Talpiot, offers a dramatic view of the Old City and the Judaean Desert. Jerusalem Forest to the west has been planted with trees (said to number six million) in memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Another forest at the outskirts of the city is Nahal Sorek, located beyond Ein Kerem. Its caves contain interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations. Wadi Qelt, located to the east between Jerusalem and Jericho, is a desert gorge with a nature reserve, spring, waterfall, and aqueduct. It is also the site of the picturesque St. George's Monastery, which is built into the side of a cliff. Wadi Qelt and Nahal Sorek are popular hiking spots.

Popular recreational activities include soccer, hiking, and bicycling. Jerusalem also has both open-air and indoor swimming pools and a skating rink with artificial ice made of silicon. Sports programs are run by the city, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and neighborhood sports clubs. The YMCA has a soccer field that can seat as many as 10,000 spectators.

17. Performing Arts

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra performs regularly at the Henry Crown Theater, part of the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts (which also includes the Jerusalem Theater and the Rebecca Crown Theater). In the summer months, the modern Sultan's Pool Amphitheatre, near Yemin Moshe, with a view of the Old City walls is a dramatic venue for both classical and popular concerts. Classical, jazz, and folk music concerts are performed at the Gerard Bakhar Theater. Concerts are also presented at area universities and at the Israel Museum.

Jerusalem does not have a resident theater company, but audiences can attend performances by troupes from Tel Aviv (the Habimah and Carmeri Theater Companies) and by the Haifa Municipal Theater Company. The annual Israel Festival in May and June brings performances by additional groups from many parts of the world, and experimental theater can be seen regularly at the Khan Theatre. Musical theater, often in English, is featured at Tzavta. The Train Theatre is a railroad carriage that has been converted to a puppet theater. The Bat Dor and Inbal dance companies perform frequently in Jerusalem, as does the Israel Opera.

Arabic theater and dancing is presented at the Al-Masrah Centre for Palestinian Culture and Art and the Al-Kasaba Theatre.

18. Libraries and Museums

With some 2,500,000 volumes, the Jewish National and University Library is the largest in the country and has the world's premier collection of Judaica. It also has excellent collections in archaeology and Oriental studies. Jerusalem's other major libraries are the library of the Knesset, the State Archives, and the Municipal Library, which has multiple branches.

The Israel Museum, located in Jerusalem, is the country's national museum. Its holdings include some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, an extensive collection of archaeological artifacts from the Middle East, Jewish ritual art, Jewish ethnography, and sculpture. Archaeological exhibits are also found in the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, and the Citadel Museum of the History of Jerusalem. Museums focusing on Arabic art, culture, and history include the Islamic Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the L. A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, and the Palestinian Arab Folklore Centre.

Specialized museums include Ammunition Hill Museum, commemorating the 1967 Six Day War; the Armenian Art and History Museum in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City; the Bloomfield Science Museum; the Burnt house of Kathros, the reconstructed home of a Jewish family during the era of the Second Temple; and the Second Temple model, a scale model of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

Yad Vashem, in the Ein Kerem district, is both a museum of the Holocaust and a memorial to those who perished in it. The Historical Museum portion documents the Holocaust from the rise of Nazism through World War II. The Hall of Members Cemetery con tains ashes brought from Europe's concentration camps, an eternal flame, and pillars symbolizing the chimneys of the crematoria in which the bodies of victims were incinerated. Also included in Yad Vashem are the Garden of Righteous Gentiles and a Children's Memorial.

19. Tourism

With its religious and historic sites, cultural attractions, and picturesque mountain setting, Jerusalem is Israel's foremost tourist destination, drawing one-and-a-half million visitors a year, or roughly 70 percent of all persons who visit Israel. In the same year, Jerusalem's hotels employed 6,151 workers and welcomed 970,000 guests. The city has 65 hotels, with a combined total of 8,046 rooms. About 38 percent of travelers to Jerusalem come from the Americas, and 43 percent come from Europe.

Jerusalem is also Israel's most popular site for international conferences, hosting about 50 percent of all such events.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Tu B'Shvat

Jerusalem Musical Encounters


International Festival of Poets
International Judaica Fair

Pesach (Passover)

Independence Day
Lag Ba-Omer

Israel Festival
Jerusalem Liberation Day

International Film Festival

Tish B'Av

Jerusalem International Puppet Theatre Festival

Early Music Workshop

Rosh Hashanah
Yom Kippur
Simchat Torah

Jerusalem Marathon



21. Famous Citizens

S. Y. Agnon (18871970), fiction writer.

Yehuda Amichai (b. 1924), poet.

Aharon Appelfeld (b. 1932), novelist.

David Ben-Gurion (18861973), Israel's first prime minister.

David Grossman (b. 1954), novelist.

Teddy Kollek (b. 1911), longtime mayor.

Gershom Scholem (18971982), historian of mysticism.

Chaim Weizmann (18741952), early Zionist leader and first president of Israel.

Avraham B. Yehoshua (b. 1936), novelist and playwright.

22. For Further Study


Focus on Israel. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Israel Tourist Information. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Jerusalem Post online. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Jerusalem website. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Ministry of Tourism. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Municipality of Jerusalem Website. [Online] Available (accessed December 30, 1999).

Government Offices

Ministry of Economy and Planning
P.O. Box 292
3 Rehov Kaplan
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91131

Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 187
3 Rehov Kaplan
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91919

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Ministry of Tourism
24 Rehov King George
Jerusalem 91009

Tourist Information
17 Rehov Jaffa


Al Quds
P. O. Box 19788

The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post Building
P.O. Box 81
Jerusalem 91000


Ben-Dov, M. Jerusalem, Man and Stone: An Archeologist's Personal View of His City. Translation from the Hebrew, Yael Guiladi. Tel-Aviv : Modan, 1990.

Benvenisti, Meron. City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem. Translated by Maxine Kaufman Nunn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Dumper, Michael. The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Elon, Amos. Jerusalem: Battlegrounds of Memory. New York: Kodansha International, 1995.

Elon, Amos. Jerusalem: City of Mirrors. 1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.

King, Anthony. Jerusalem Revealed. Cambridgeshire, England: Boxer Publishing, 1997.

Kroyanker, David. Jerusalem Architecture. Introduction by Teddy Kollek. New York: Vendome Press, 1994.

Nellhaus, Arlynn. Into the Heart of Jerusalem: A Traveler's Guide to Visits, Celebrations, and Sojourns. Santa Fe, NM: John Muir, 1999.

Romann, Michael, and Alex Weingrod. Living Together Separately: Arabs and Jews in Contemporary Jerusalem. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Rosovsky, Nitza, ed. City of the Great King: Jerusalem from David to the Present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.


Jerusalem [videorecording] with Martin Gilbert. New York: A&E Home Video, 1996. 2 videocassettes (ca. 150 min.): sd. col.; 1/2 in. Produced by Krosney Productions for the History Channel. v. 1. From a dream to destruction. v. 2. Pilgrims and Conquerors.

Jerusalem 3000 [videorecording]. Yoram Globus presents Jerusalem 3000. Burbank, California: Warner Home Video, 1998.1 videocassette (30 min.): sd., col. ; 1/2 in.

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City that is sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and that has become embroiled in the politics of the ArabIsrael conflict.

Located in the Judaean mountains, on the water-shed between the Judaean hills and the Judaean desert, Jerusalem (in Hebrew, Yerushalayim; in Arabic, Bayt al-Maqdis or al-Quds al-Sharif ) overlooks the Dead Sea to the east and faces Israel's coastal plain to the west. It has warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Jerusalem was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium b.c.e. By the late Bronze Age, it was occupied by the Jebusites. The city became the Jewish national and religious center after its conquest by King David (c. 1000 b.c.e.) from the Jebusites until the destruction of the second Jewish temple (70 c.e.) and the rebellions against Roman occupation, which resulted in the Jews' exile from the city and their dispersion. The Western Wall of the temple complex was the only remnant to survive destruction and over the course of time became the focus of Jewish veneration. As the scene of the last ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, Jerusalem emerged as one of the five original Christian patriarchates and has remained a center of Christian pilgrimage since the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine, when it was rebuilt as a Christian city. After the Muslim conquest (638 c.e.), the construction of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock (part of the complex known as al-Haram al-Sharif) to commemorate the Night Journey of the prophet Muhammad focused Muslim attention on the city. It became the first qibla (direction of prayer), and is the third holiest city of Islam.

Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem

Conquered by the Ottomans in 1517, Jerusalem remained a backwater town in the province of Syria until the nineteenth century, when Europeans and Ottomans refocused on its religious significance. During the brief reign of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Ali (1832-1840), relaxed restrictions against the dhimmi (non-Muslim) population and renewed interest by Western Christians in the Holy Land resulted in an increase in tourism, the installation of European consulates, the beginnings of biblical archaeology, and the establishment of Protestant institutions adjoining those of the Roman Catholic (Latin), Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian, and other Christian denominations. Communal conflicts over the religious jurisdiction of the Christian holy places led to the Crimean War (18541856), after which the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were entrusted to the Muslim Nusayba family.

The city plan at the time remained as it was when it was rebuilt by the Romans as Aelia Capitolina. Walled, with a system of principal streets, it was dominated by the holy sites and divided into Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Armenian residential quarters with maze-like streets, bazaars, churches, synagogues, and mosques. It was the residence of Muslim Arab notables and, later, members of the Ottoman official class. The Khalidi, Nashashibi, and Husayni families played important roles in local politics and Muslim religious administration. The Jewish population included the Mizrahi Jews ( Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Asia) who had lived there since ancient times or who had migrated after the expulsion of Spanish (Sephardic) Jewry in 1492. Some of their leading families included the Navon, Amzalak, Antebi, and Valero families, who became important as translators, bankers, and merchants. Ashkenazic (European) Jews began to immigrate to Jerusalem during the early nineteenth century, including Hasidim (called haredim in the late twentieth century), who were dependent upon philanthropy from abroad to support them while they lived a life of full-time study. In the 1860s, at the invitation of British consul James Finn and philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, who donated money for the construction of residential areas outside the walls, Jews, some Muslims, and the Russian Orthodox Church began to build new neighborhoods along the roads to the Old City. By 1860 the city's population stood at approximately 40,000, which grew to 55,000 by 1900.

In 1873 Jerusalem was placed under direct Ottoman rule from Constantinople (now Istanbul), and during the reign of Abdülhamit II, who championed its Islamic significance, it underwent major expansion. A municipal council, dominated by Muslim Arabs, was established. Jerusalem became a major provincial city with new courts, a modern water system, mosques, and public offices. New residential and commercial construction, both inside and outside the walls, was undertaken by the local population and by Europeans who established banks and built schools, hospitals, and hospices. Roads were paved, the city was linked by rail to Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast, and Ottoman secondary schools were set up close to new Muslim neighborhoods. The visit to Jerusalem by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (1898) heralded the city's emerging importance in the Ottoman Empire. In 1917 Jerusalem was occupied by the British army under the command of General Edmund Allenby; it later became the capital of what the British called Palestine. The British ruled Palestine within the rubric of the mandate system from 1922 to 1948. The New City
expanded with the development of additional Palestinian Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. The British improved the water-supply system, paved roads, planted gardens, and encouraged the repair and construction of buildings. More significantly, they allowed large-scale Jewish immigration into Palestine. Indeed, the terms of the mandate included the Balfour Declaration (1917), which obligated Britain to foster Jewish immigration, land purchases, and institution building. This quickly led to a growth in the population in the city from just over 91,000 in 1922 to almost 133,000 in 1931. By 1944, according to the American Committee of Inquiry, the Jewish population in the city was 97,000, with 30,630 Muslims and 29,350 Christians (the overwhelming majority of Muslims and Christians were Palestinians).

Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism under British Mandate

Jerusalem became the center of both Zionist and Palestinian nationalist institutions and aspirations during the British mandate. The Supreme Muslim Council was located in Jerusalem, headed by the Jerusalem mufti, Hajj Muhammad Amin alHusayni (who then also controlled the considerable waqf income that under Ottoman rule had gone directly to Constantinople). Palestinian political life was complicated by the bitter rivalry between the Husaynis and the Nashashibis for control of the Palestinian nationalist movement. Jerusalem's mayors were Arab notables active in the nascent Palestinian nationalist movement, and once again included members from the Husayni and Nashashibi families, including Musa Kazim al-Husayni, Raghib alNashashibi, Husayn Fakhri al-Khalidi, and Mustafa al-Khalidi. The Arab Executive was also headed by Musa Kazim al-Husayni. With the Arab and Jewish populations governed by the British under separate systems, the Zionists developed economic, social, educational, and political institutions of their own, including the Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency was headquartered in the city as well. Nationalist passions, and Palestinian fears of political and demographic displacement in the face of continued Zionist immigration, led to violence as early as April 1920. The more serious Western (Wailing) Wall Disturbances of 1929 were a result of the politicization of religious shrines. During the Palestine Arab Revolt (19361939) Palestinian guerrillas actually occupied the Old City for a time. Both incidents were suppressed by overwhelming British police and military force.

The ArabIsrael Wars and Aftermath

During the ArabIsrael War of 1948, Jerusalem was the scene of bitter fighting. Fighting between Palestinians and the Jewish Haganah began in late November 1947, and by late April 1948, 1most Palestinian neighborhoods in West Jerusalem had been captured by Jewish forces and depopulated, and the vacant houses handed over to Jews. Jordan and other Arab states entered the fray on 15 May 1948. Although the Jordanian Arab Legion waited three days to enter Jerusalem, it ended up engaging in fierce fighting with Jewish forces for control of the Old City. The surrender of the Jewish Quarter after ten days' fighting, and the expulsion of its remaining Jewish population, left the city divided into Israeli-controlled West Jerusalem and Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem, including the Old City. Despite United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, that called for the city to be controlled neither by Jews nor Arabs, as well as later proposals for its internationalization supervised by the United Nations Trusteeship Council, the city remained divided between Jordan and Israel. Access between the two sectors was via the Mandelbaum gate. Both sectors of the city had been emptied of inhabitants belonging to the other side, and both the Jordanian and Israeli governments neglected, destroyed, and/or allowed the desecration of captured cemeteries and religious sites.

East Jerusalem was officially incorporated into Jordan in 1950 and remained subordinate to Amman throughout the period of Jordanian rule, despite protestations by mayors Arif al-Arif and Ruhi al-Khatib. Requests to establish an Arab university in Jerusalem were denied. Many of the Palestinian elite left the city; they were replaced by notables from Hebron invited to the city by Jordan. Though the city expanded northward, plans to incorporate the neighboring villages in the direction of Ramallah into the city never crystallized. Hotels were built, and construction began on a royal palace at Tall al-Full.

In 1950 Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital even though almost all governments maintained embassies in Tel Aviv, where the real work of the state was done. Institutions such as the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, which had come under Jordan's rule, were rebuilt in West Jerusalem. Christians, including Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel, were allowed to cross through the gate to visit the shrines in East Jerusalem on Christmas. Jews, however, were denied access to their holy places. In general, Jerusalem became a backwater for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

In the ArabIsrael War of June 1967 another round of fierce fighting broke out. Jordanian forces shelled West Jerusalem on 5 June and two days later Israeli paratroopers assaulted East Jerusalem, including the Old City. The Arab Legion and local Palestinians put up a stiff resistance, but were defeated. Israelis were jubilant at being able to pray at the Western Wall for the first time since 1948; Palestinians were mortified to see Muslim and Christian holy sites under Jewish control. Israel immediately began effecting significant changes to the newly unified city. It placed East Jerusalem under its legal and administrative jurisdiction on 28 June, thereby effectively annexing it and uniting it with West Jerusalem. Following on Jordanian procedure, Israel dramatically expanded the municipal city limits into the West Bank. On 30 July 1980 the Israeli Knesset declared the newly expanded city to be the "eternal" capital of Israel. Israeli authorities also confiscated Palestinian land in the Old City to rebuild the destroyed Jewish Quarter, and destroyed 135 Palestinian homes and two historic mosques to build an expansive pilgrims' plaza facing the Western Wall. Finally, new Jewish settlements like Pisgat Zeʾev were constructed in East Jerusalem surrounding the Old City. The acceleration of settlement building for Jews under the Likud governments starting in 1977 resulted, by the mid-1980s, in 12 percent of the Jewish population of Jerusalem residing in East Jerusalem beyond the 1948 armistice line (Green Line). By contrast, the Palestinian neighborhoods in West Jerusalem that were captured in 1967 were not resettled, and remain inhabited by Jews. By 2000, the city's population stood at 670,500 in the expanded city: 454,600 Jews and 215,400 Palestinians. Under the administration of Jewish mayor Teddy Kollek (19651992), all barriers dividing the city were removed. The city underwent a major beautification program that included the construction of a ring of parks around the Old City. Other green spaces, combined with zoning regulations, also served to prevent the expansion of Palestinian built-up areas while Jewish settlement construction continued and, in general, Kollek neglected development of the Palestinian parts of the city.

Unified Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the seat of the government of the state of Israel, and the site of the Knesset, Supreme Court, Chief Rabbinate, and the offices of many Jewish institutions. Most countries of the world,
however, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, in deference to United Nations General Assembly Resolultion 181 (II) of 1947 and the unsettled international legal status of the city. Since 1967, Muslim and Christian holy places have been under the jurisdiction of their respective religious authorities, with the al-Haram al-Sharif under the administration of the waqf and shariʿa courts. Jerusalem Palestinians were also granted Israeli permanent residency cards, and thus treated differently from West Bank Palestinians.

The unification of Jerusalem in 1967 revived the religious and political competition for control of the city. Some of the new Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem have been settled by haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jews, for whom Jerusalem is the center of their religious worldview that calls for strict observance of the Sabbath rest. Their opposition, at times violent, to secular vehicular traffic through these neighborhoods has renewed the religious-secular conflict among Jews in Israel. Haredi votes enabled the Likud candidate, Ehud Olmert, to become mayor of Jerusalem in 1993 and to place haredi members on the Municipal Council. In 2003 the city voted in its first haredi mayor, Uri Lupolianski. Through immigration and natural increase, the haredi population will soon exceed that of the secular Jewish residents of the city. For the Jewish religious nationalist settlers, who also have a presence in these neighborhoods and have bought or leased housing in Palestinian neighborhoods in the Old City or in villages such as Silwan that have Jewish historic significance, Jerusalem is holy land never to be relinquished.

For the Palestinians, Jerusalem remains their spiritual and national capital. They have viewed these political and demographic changes with great alarm, and have been angered by violent threats to their shrines. In August 1969 an Australian Christian set fire to the al-Aqsa mosque, destroying a twelfth-century pulpit. Israeli police thwarted several Jewish attempts to blow up the shrines in alHaram al-Sharif in the early 1980s. In April 1982 a U.S.-born Israeli began shooting inside the Dome of the Rock, killing two Palestinians.

To bolster the Arab-Islamic nature of East Jerusalem, the Jordanian and Saudi governments have helped to fund the more than 2,000 Muslim endowments in the cityIslamic schools, colleges, mosques, welfare services, and commercial enterprises, as well as the repair of Islamic holy sites. Archaeological excavations also carry political ramifications in Jerusalem and have led to violence. Palestinian disturbances broke out in September 1996, prompted by Israel's opening of an ancient tunnel running adjacent to al-Haram al-Sharif. Intra-Jewish confrontations sometimes occur over archaeological digs that haredi Jews claim desecrate ancient Hebrew burial grounds.

The signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993 has accelerated the political struggle over the city as both Israel and the Palestinians prepare for the "final status talks" that were slated to determine the future of the city. Despite Israel's insistence that the unified city is its eternal capital, Palestinians continue to maintain that it (or at least East Jerusalem) is the capital of a future Palestinian state, as stated in the 1988 declaration of independence by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Indeed, the city has become the Palestinian religious, cultural, and intellectual center, and, through the establishment of the Arab Studies Society (1979) by Faysal alHusayni at Orient House, the site of Palestinian archives collected to build and transmit Palestinian nationalism. After the onset of the IsraeliPalestinian peace process after 1993, the PLO gave al-Husayni responsibility for assessing municipal functions of a Palestinian part of the city, and the Orient House began to play the de facto role of a municipal institution with national functions. For their part, Israeli authorities in the 1990s began tightening residency requirements for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a process that led to hundreds of them losing their residency rights. Israel's decision to build a Jewish settlement at Har Homa (in Arabic, Jabal Abu Ghunaym ) in Jerusalem's southern suburbs angered Palestinians and threatened the peace process. Even Arab-Arab friction grew in 1994 when Israel's peace treaty with Jordan maintained Jordan's role in Islamic religious affairs in the city, to the outrage of Palestinians.

These political struggles witnessed the intensification of the level and degree of violence in the city. In October 1990 Israeli security forces opened fire on Palestinians in al-Haram al-Sharif who were stoning Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, killing seventeen. The violent opposition to the peace process by Islamic fundamentalist groups such as HAMAS and Islamic Jihad, who operated within the Palestinian Authority, led to numerous terrorist attacks on Jewish civilian targets that killed dozens. An unnerving development in this regard was the beginning of suicide bombings by members of the two groups. These suicide bombings on buses in Jerusalem led directly to the election victory of the Likud in 1996, and soured many Israelis to the idea of the peace process. The visit of the controversial Likud politician Ariel Sharon to al-Haram al-Sharif in September 2000 led to a particularly intense outbreak of the violence of the al-Aqsa Intifada, which has prompted Israeli authorities to close Orient House and restrict non-Jerusalem resident Palestinians from entering the city, while HAMAS and Islamic Jihad carry out more suicide bombings, including in non-Zionist religious Jewish neighborhoods. In response, Israel began constructing a barrier cutting off Palestinian population centers from Jewish areas. In January 2004, Israeli authorities began extending the wall so that it cut off the Palestinian suburb of Abu Dis from the city proper. Jerusalem remained a city on the edge by early 2004.

see also abdÜlhamit ii; allenby, edmund henry; aqsa intifada, al-; arabisrael war (1948); arabisrael war (1967); arab legion; arif, arif al-; ashkenazim; balfour declaration (1917); crimean war; dead sea; haganah; hamas; haram al-sharif; hasidim; hebrew university of jerusalem; holy sepulchre, church of the; husayni family, al-; husayni, muhammad amin al-; husayni, musa kazim al-; ibrahim ibn muhammad ali; islamic jihad; israel; jewish agency for palestine; khalidi, husayn fakhri al-; kollek, teddy; likud; mandate system; montefiore, moses; nashashibi family; nusayba family; oslo accord (1993); palestine arab revolt (1936-1939); palestine liberation organization (plo); palestinian authority; sharon, ariel; supreme muslim council; west bank; western wall; western wall disturbances.


Armstrong, Karen. Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

Asali, K. J., ed. Jerusalem in History. New York: Interlink, 1990.

Ben-Arieh, Y. Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century: The Emergence of the New City. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Ben-Arieh, Y. Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century: The Old City. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1984.

Benvenisti, Meron. City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Dumper, Michael T. The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Elon, Amos. Jerusalem: City of Mirrors. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.

Friedland, Roger, and Hecht, Richard. To Rule Jerusalem. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Irani, George E. The Papacy and the Middle East: The Role of the Holy See in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 19621984. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986.

Kraemer, Joel, ed. Jerusalem: Problems and Prospects. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1981.

reeva s. simon
updated by michael r. fischbach

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Jerusalem (jərōō´sələm, –zələm), Heb. Yerushalayim, Arab. Al Quds, city (1994 pop. 578,800), capital of Israel. It is situated on a ridge 2,500 ft (760 m) high that lies west of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Jerusalem is an administrative, religious, educational, cultural, and market center. Tourism and the construction of houses and hotels are the city's major industries. Manufactures include cut and polished diamonds, plastics, clothing, and shoes, and electronic printing and other high-technology industries have been developed. The city is served by road, rail, and air transport.

Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Often under the name of Zion, it figures prominently in Jewish and Christian literature as a symbol of the capital of the Messiah. Jerusalem's churches and shrines are legion. The traditional identifications vary in reliability from certainty (such as Gethsemane) to pious supposition (such as the Tomb of the Virgin). The most famous and most difficult identification is that of Calvary. Excavations have been made in Jerusalem since 1835, and after 1967, the Israelis increased this activity. Many of Jerusalem's original streets, including the main Cardo, have been excavated and turned into tourist sites.

The Old City

The eastern part of Jerusalem is the Old City, a quadrangular area built on two hills and surrounded by a wall completed in 1542 by the Ottoman sultan Sulayman I. Within the wall are four quarters. The Muslim quarter, in the east, contains a sacred enclosure, the Haram esh-Sherif (known as the Temple Mount to Jews), within which, built on the old Mt. Moriah, are the Dome of the Rock (completed 691), or Mosque of Omar, and the Mosque of al-Aksa. The wall of the Haram incorporates the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, a remnant of the retaining wall of the Second Temple and a holy place for Jews. Nearby and southwest of the Haram is the Jewish quarter, with several famous old synagogues. Partially destroyed in previous Arab-Israeli fighting, the Old City was captured in 1967 by the Israelis, who began to rebuild and renovate the Jewish quarter. To the west of the Jewish quarter is the Armenian quarter, site of the Gulbenkian Library. The Christian quarter occupies the northern and northwestern parts of the Old City. Its greatest monument is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Through the area runs the Via Dolorosa, along which Jesus is said to have carried his cross.

The New City and Other Districts

The New City, extending west and southwest of the Old City, has developed tremendously since the 19th cent. It is the site of several educational institutions, as well as the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and other government buildings (including the striking Supreme Court building, which opened in 1992). Yad Vashem, a memorial to the Holocaust, is also in that section of the city. To the east of the Old City is the Valley of the Kidron, beyond which lie the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. To the north is Mt. Scopus, a Jewish intellectual center that is the site of the Hadassah Medical Center, Hebrew Univ., and the Jewish National Library. Another campus of Hebrew Univ. is located on the western edge of the city at Ein Karem. From 1948 to 1967, Mt. Scopus was an Israeli exclave in Arab territory. To the west and south of the Old City runs the Valley of Hinnom; this meets the Kidron near the pool of Siloam, which is next to the site of the original city of Jerusalem, now partly excavated and called the City of David (see Ophel).

Cultural and Educational Institutions

Jerusalem has numerous museums; one of the finest is the Israel Museum, in the New City, whose collection ranges from the contemporary to displays of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The city is the seat of Hebrew Univ., the British School of Archaeology, the Dominican Fathers' Convent of St. Étienne, with the attached Bible School and French Archaeological School, the American College, the Greek Catholic Seminary of St. Anne, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Swedish Theological Institute, the Near East School of Archaeology, the Rubin Academy of Music, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


Early History to 1900

Despite incomplete archaeological work, it is evident that Jerusalem was occupied as far back as the 4th millenium BC In the late Bronze Age (2000–1550 BC), it was a Jebusite (Canaanite) stronghold. David captured it (c.1000 BC) from the Jebusites and walled the city. After Solomon built the Temple on Mt. Moriah in the 10th cent. BC, Jerusalem became the spiritual and political capital of the Hebrews. In 586 BC it fell to the Babylonians, and the Temple was destroyed.

The city was restored to Hebrew rule later in the 6th cent. BC by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. The Temple was rebuilt (538–515 BC; known as the Second Temple) by Zerubbabel, a governor of Jerusalem under the Persians. In the mid-5th cent. BC, Ezra reinvigorated the Jewish community in Jerusalem. The city was the capital of the Maccabees in the 2d and 1st cent. BC

After Jerusalem had been taken for the Romans by Pompey, it became the capital of the Herod dynasty, which ruled under the aegis of Rome. The Roman emperor Titus ruined the city and destroyed the Temple (AD 70) in order to punish and discourage the Jews. After the revolt of Bar Kokba (AD 132–35), Hadrian rebuilt the city as a pagan shrine called Aelia Capitolina but forbade Jews to live on the site.

With the imperial toleration of Christianity (from 313), Jerusalem underwent a revival, greatly aided by St. Helena, who sponsored much building in the early 4th cent. Since that time Jerusalem has been a world pilgrimage spot. Muslims, who believe that the city was visited by Muhammad, treated Jerusalem favorably after they captured it in 637, making it the chief shrine after Mecca. From 688 to 691 the Dome of the Rock mosque was constructed.

In the 11th cent. the Fatimids began to hinder Christian pilgrims; their destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher helped bring on the Crusades. Jerusalem was conquered by the Crusaders in 1099 and for most of the 12th cent. was the capital of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187, Muslims under Saladin recaptured the city. Thereafter, under Mamluk and then Ottoman rule, Jerusalem was rebuilt and restored (especially by Sulayman I); but by the late 16th cent. it was declining as a commercial and religious center.

In the early 19th cent., Jerusalem began to revive. The flow of Christian pilgrims increased, and churches, hospices, and other institutions were built. Jewish immigration accelerated (especially from the time of the Egyptian occupation of Jerusalem by Muhammad Ali in 1832–41), and by 1900, Jews made up the largest community in the city and expanded settlement outside the Old City walls.

The Twentieth Century

In 1917, during World War I, Jerusalem was captured by British forces under Gen. Edmund Allenby. After the war it was made the capital of the British-held League of Nations Palestine mandate (1922–48). As the end of the mandate approached, Arabs and Jews both sought to hold sole possession of the city. Most Christians favored a free city open to all religions. This view prevailed in the United Nations, which, in partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, declared that Jerusalem and its environs (including Bethlehem) would be an internationally administered enclave in the projected Arab state. Even before the partition went into effect (May 14, 1948), fighting between Jews and Arabs broke out in the city. On May 28, the Jews in the Old City surrendered. The New City remained in Jewish hands. The Old City and all areas held by the Arab Legion (East Jerusalem) were annexed by Jordan in Apr., 1949. Israel responded by retaining the area it held. On Dec. 14, 1949, the New City of Jerusalem was made the capital of Israel.

In the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israeli forces took the Old City. The Israeli government then formally annexed the Old City and placed all of Jerusalem under a unified administration. Arab East Jerusalemites were offered regular Israeli citizenship but chose to maintain their status as Jordanians. Israel transferred many Arabs out of the Old City but promised access to the holy places to people of all religions. In July, 1980, Israel's parliament approved a bill affirming Jerusalem as the nation's capital. With suburbanization and housing developments in formerly Jordanian-held territory, Jerusalem has become Israel's largest city. Strife between Arabs and Jews persists. The issue of the status of East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel but regarded by Palestinians as the eventual capital of their own state, remains difficult. In 1998, Israel announced a controversial plan to expand Jerusalem by annexing nearby towns.


See S. B. Cohen, Jerusalem: Bridging the Four Walls (1977); M. Har-El, This Is Jerusalem (1977); L. Collins and D. Lapierre, O Jerusalem (1980); M. Gilbert, Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City (1985); F. E. Peters, Jerusalem (1985); A. L. Eckardt, ed., Jerusalem: City of Ages (1987); A. Rabinovich, Jerusalem on Earth (1988); H. Shanks, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography (1995); S. S. Montefiore, Jerusalem: The Biography (2011).

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Jerusalem stands in the middle of the nation of Israel, a holy city to three of the world's great religionsJudaism, Christianity, and Islam. Before Muslims underwent pilgrimages to Mecca, the most venerated holy place in all of Islam was the Dome of the Rock, a magnificent mosque built over the sacred rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord and where the Prophet Muhammad (c. 570632) is believed to have ascended to Paradise. For the Jews, Jerusalem is the site of King David's (d. 932 b.c.e.) ancient capital of Judea and a massive wall, called the "Wailing Wall," which is all that remains of the great Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 c.e.. Christian pilgrims revere the city as the place where Jesus (c. 6 b.c.e. c. 30 c.e.) was crucified and is believed to have risen from the dead, and for more than 1,600 years they have visited the most revered of all Christian holy places, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was built over what was believed to be Christ's tomb.

According to Hebrew tradition, Jerusalem was chosen to be the earthly headquarters for the Lord's work among humankind in very ancient times, for Melchizedek, a priest, a survivor of the pre-flood world, the oldest living human at that time, was living there as King of Salem even before Father Abraham set out on his quest for the Promised Land. Obeying a commandment of the Lord, Melchizedek had come out of Babylonia to south central Canaan to build a city on the summit of the watershed between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Salem was constructed on the southeast hill of a mountain ridge with deep valleys on its east, south, and west sides. With the spring of Gihon at its feet to provide fresh water easily available for its inhabitants even during times of siege, the location of Salem made it a naturally impregnable fortress.

As the city of Jerusalem grew, it sprawled out over the two larger and three smaller hills of the ridge. With Egypt about 300 miles south-west; Assyria, 700 miles northeast; Babylon, 700 miles east; Persia, 1,000 miles east; Greece, 800 miles northwest; and Rome, 1,500 miles northwest, Jerusalem became a very cosmopolitan city with a steady flow of merchants and traders arriving from nations throughout the known world. David established Jerusalem as Israel's national capital in about 1000 b.c.e., and in about 950 b.c.e., his son Solomon built the magnificent temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant. The city and the temple were destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c.e., but by the time that Jesus walked its streets in about 29 c.e., Jerusalem had been restored to its former glory. In 70, a series of Jewish revolts against Rome brought the imperial army to the walls of Jerusalem on the day of Passover. After a five-month siege, the city walls were brought down, the Temple of Herod destroyed, and Jerusalem was left in ruins and desolate.

In 135, Barcocheba, a self-proclaimed messiah of the Jews, led another revolt against the Romans. He managed to gain control of the city and set about rebuilding the Temple, but his ambitious project was short-lived when the Roman army arrived in force and squelched the rebellion with great loss of life for the Jews. The conquerors decreed that no Jews could enter Jerusalem on pain of death, and a temple to Jupiter, father of the Roman gods, was built where the Temple had stood.

In 326, after the Roman emperor Constantine (d. 337) converted to Christianity, he traveled to the Holy Land to view the sacred sites for himself. Helena, his mother, received a vision that showed her the exact spot where Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy follower of Jesus, had buried him after his crucifixion. The site lay beneath a temple to Venus that had been erected by a Roman army of occupation, but Constantine perceived the edifice as only a minor impediment. He ordered the temple of the goddess torn down and replaced by the Basilica of Constantine, the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre, near the Tomb Rotunda, which covered the tomb of Christ. In time, the Basilica, the tomb, and Calvary, the site of the crucifixion, were all brought under the roof of a vast Romanesque cathedral. For the next three centuries, Jerusalem remained a Christian city, and in the fifth century, it dominated Christendom as one of the seats of the Five Patriarchs, along with Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria.

In 638, a Muslim army under Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab (ruled 634644) conquered Jerusalem. A devout follower of the Prophet Muhammad, the caliph was also tolerant of other religions. He ordered that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre be respected as a Christian place of worship and forbade it to be converted into a mosque. When he was taken to the Temple Mount, he was shocked to discover that the holy rock where Abraham had taken Isaac to be sacrificed, the place that had held the Ark of the Covenant in Solomon's Temple, and the spot where Muhammad had ascended to Paradise, lay exposed to the elements. After the area had been purified by prayers and a rainfall, the caliph ordered the Dome of the Rock to be built to shelter the sacred rock. The shrine with its massive dome gilded with gold mosaics was completed in 691.

The golden dome collapsed in 1016, but it was soon rebuilt. In 1099, Christian crusaders massacred the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem and converted the Dome of the Rock to a Christian shrine, replacing the crescent on the top of the dome with a cross and constructing an altar on the rock. The shrine returned to Muslim possession in 1187 when the great Muslim military genius Salah al-Din, known to the crusaders as Saladin, captured Jerusalem. In 1537, the Ottoman Turks replaced the gold mosaics on the outside of the dome with 45,000 Persian tiles. Today's visitor to the shrine will see the sun-light reflecting from sheets of gold-plated aluminum, imprinted with selected verses from the Koran, which were placed there during a complete restoration of the Dome of the Rock in 1956-1962. In 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, was seized by Israeli soldiers, but the Dome of the Rock remains available for worship by Muslims and visitation by others at scheduled times.

Interestingly, the Dome of the Rock plays a significant role in the end-time beliefs of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Fundamentalists. Jews and Christians envision the site as one of the places in which Armageddon, the last great struggle between the forces of good and evil, will begin before the Messiah appearsor for the Christians, returns in a Second Coming. For the Muslims, it is here that Jesus will conquer the Antichrist and the chief eschatological figure, the Mahdi (Guided One) will appear to help destroy the forces of evil and to bring about the conversions of all Jews and Christians to Islam.

When the Muslims assumed control of the sacred rock of Abraham and the site of Solomon's Temple in the seventh century, the Jews began to focus their devotion on the huge blocks of stone along the western edge of the Old City, all that remained of the retaining wall of the temple built by King Herod (734 b.c.e.). Herod had begun the construction of the Temple in 19 b.c.e. and the main building was completed about 18 months later. However, Herod's intentions to build the most magnificent of all temples in the history of the Jewish people did not cease at that time. Construction continued until about 64 c.e. For centuries, the wall has been a place where Jews might gather to mourn the destruction of the Temple and the onset of the great Jewish Exile. Because it is a place of tears and sorrow, the name "Wailing Wall" was attached to the ruins, and it has become a site for Jewish pilgrimages, especially during Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot.

Since 1968, Jerusalem has been a city divided by uneasy truces and sporadic fighting. Perhaps as the twenty-first century progresses, a lasting peace can be achieved and Jerusalem may truly become the City of God.

Delving Deeper

Halley, H. H. Halley's Bible Handbook: An Abbreviated Bible Commentary. 24th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.

Harpur, James. The Atlas of Sacred Places. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Konecky & Konecky, 1994.

Kunstel, Marcia, and Joseph Albright. Their Promised Land: Arab and Jew in History's CauldronOne Valley in the Jerusalem Hills. New York: Crown Publishers, 1990.

Shanks, Hershel. The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeological Society, 1975.

Starr, Chester G. A History of the Ancient World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Westwood, Jennifer. Mysterious Places. New York: Galahad Books, 1996.

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The capital of the State of Israel. Jerusalem was captured by King David from the Jebusites (see 2 Samuel 5) and became his capital. It was the site of Solomon's Temple and the royal palace, and remained the seat of the Davidic kings during the period of the monarchy. The city was captured and largely destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. The city was rebuilt in the Persian period. Now began the brilliant imagination of Jerusalem, containing virtually all beauty, the site of all important events from Creation to End. The Temple was reconstructed and remained the centre of social and religious life under the high priest and was greatly enlarged by Herod the Great. The Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 CE, however, led to a prolonged siege of the city and its eventual destruction. Of the Temple only the western wall (wailing wall) remained. When the State of Israel was created in 1948, Jerusalem was partitioned. In 1967 Israeli forces captured the Arab quarter and the united city was declared the capital of the State of Israel. See also ZION.


The Christian history of the city is associated with Jesus’ short ministry there and with his death and resurrection. The Jewish church there flourished at least until the war against Rome of 66–70 CE. The see of Jerusalem did not return to importance until the 4th cent. with the building of churches by Constantine and the new fashion of pilgrimage to the Holy Places. The Christian centre of Jerusalem is the Church of the Resurrection, commonly known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Jerusalem is not mentioned by name in the Qurʾān, but 17. 5–7 is clearly referring to the two destructions of Jerusalem. On that basis, 17. 1 ties the Night Journey (israʾ) and the Ascent (al-Miʿrāj) to Jerusalem as the place of their occurrence. Originally the qibla (direction of prayer) was toward Jerusalem, only later being changed to Mecca. Jerusalem thus becomes in Islam third in holiness to Mecca and Madīna. Known originally as Iliya (i.e. Aelia) Madīna Bayt al-Maqdis, it became known from the 4th cent. AH as al-Quds, the Holy. Two major buildings were erected on the Temple Mount, al-Masjid al-Aqsa, ‘the furthest mosque’ referred to (in anticipation) in sūra 17; and Qubbat as-Sakhrah, the Dome of the Rock (piously, but unhistorically, also called ‘the Mosque of ʿUmarʾ).

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Jerusalem the holy city of the Jews, sacred also to Christians and Muslims, lying in the Judaean hills about 30 km (20 miles) from the River Jordan.

The city was captured from the Canaanites by King David of the Israelites (c.1000 bc), who made it his capital. As the site of the Temple, built by Solomon (957 bc), it became also the centre of the Jewish religion. Since then it has shared the troubled history of the area—destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 bc and by the Romans in ad 70, refounded by Hadrian as a Gentile city (ad 135) under the name of Aelia Capitolina, destroyed again by the Persians in 614, and fought over by Saracens and Crusaders in the Middle Ages.

From 1099 it was the capital of a Crusader kingdom, which persisted as a political entity until 1291, even though Jerusalem itself was captured by Saladin in 1187. Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt its walls (1542). From 1947 the city was divided between the states of Israel and Jordan until the Israelis occupied the whole city in June 1967 and proclaimed it the capital of Israel. It is revered by Christians as the place of Christ's death and resurrection, and by Muslims as the site of the Dome of the Rock.
Jerusalem Bible a modern English translation of the Bible by mainly Roman Catholic scholars, published in 1966 and revised (as the New Jerusalem Bible) in 1985.
Jerusalem Chamber a room in Westminster Abbey in which Henry IV died, 20 March 1413.
Jerusalem cross a cross with arms of equal length each ending in a bar.

See also New Jerusalem at new, next year in Jerusalem!

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"Jerusalem." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . 16 Dec. 2017 <>.

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Jerusalem (Heb. Yerushalayim, Arabic al-Quds) Sacred site for Christians, Jews and Muslims. In 1980, the united city became the capital of Israel, although this status is not recognized by the United Nations (UN). Originally a Jebusite stronghold (2000–1500 bc), King David captured the city in c.1000 bc. Destroyed (c.587 bc) by Nebuchadnezzar, Herod the Great rebuilt the city in c.35 bc, but Titus destroyed it in ad 70. The Romans established the colony of Aelia Capitolina and banned Jews from the city until the 5th century. In 614 the Persians ended Christian control. In 1071 the Seljuks conquered Jerusalem, and their maltreatment of Christians precipitated the Crusades. It was held by the Ottoman Turks from 1244 to 1917, before becoming the capital of the British-mandated territory of Palestine. In 1948, it was divided between Jordan (the east) and Israel (the west). In 1967, the Israeli army captured the Old City of East Jerusalem. Notable monuments within the old city include the Dome of the Rock, the El Aqsa Mosque, and the Western Wall. Jerusalem is an administrative and cultural centre. Industries: tourism, diamond-cutting. Pop. (1997) 622,091.

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Jérusalem. Opera in 4 acts by Verdi to lib. by Royer and Vaëz being Fr. version (1847) of Verdi's opera I Lombardi alla prima crociata (1842). Little of Solera's orig. plot was kept, ballet was added, and much of the mus. material was re-ordered, cut, and revised, with a considerable amount of new mus. (It. vers. is Gerusalemma.) Prod. Paris 1847, New Orleans 1850, La Scala 1850, Leeds (Opera North) 1990.

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"Jérusalem." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . 16 Dec. 2017 <>.

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1. See cross.

2. The Ideal or Holy City, a symbol of Paradise as the goal of a pilgrim (or indeed of any Christian), and therefore represented by the centre of a medieval labyrinth or maze cut in turf or inlaid in a church floor (as in the nave of Chartres Cathedral, France) used for ritual pilgrimages and penances.

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"Jerusalem." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . 16 Dec. 2017 <>.

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1. Setting for unison ch. by C. H. Parry of Blake's poem Milton. Comp. and f.p. 1916. Orch. by Elgar for Leeds Fest. 1922.

2. Oratorio by H. H. Pierson, Norwich Fest. 1852.

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Jerusalem •amalgam • Targum • begum •Brigham • lingam • ogham • sorghum •Nahum • Belgium • dodgem •Brummagem • stratagem • Rackham •Malcolm • Ascham • Beckham •welcome • vade mecum • stickum •dinkum • modicum • hypericum •capsicum • viaticum • practicum •Occam •hokum, locum, oakum •bunkum •alum, Calum, mallam, vallum •Pablum •Haarlem, Harlem, Malayalam, slalom •antebellum, cerebellum, elm, helm, overwhelm, pelham, realm, underwhelm, vellum •emblem • bedlam • peplum •exemplum • wychelm • Kenelm •Salem • velum •aspergillum, chillum, film, vexillum •Whitlam • clingfilm • telefilm •microfilm •asylum, hilum, phylum, whilom •column, olm, solemn •problem • golem • hoodlum • Ulmincunabulum, pabulum •coagulum • pendulum • speculum •curriculum • cimbalom • paspalum •Absalom • Jerusalem • tantalum

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