According to the Bible, before King David's conquest of Jerusalem in the 11th century BCE the city was home to the Jebusites. The Bible describes the city as heavily fortified with a strong city wall. The city ruled by King David, known as Ir David, or the City of David, is now believed to be southwest of the Old City walls, outside the Dung Gate. His son King Solomon extended the city walls and then, in about 440 BCE, in the Persian period, Nehemiah returned from Babylon and rebuilt them. In 41-44 CE, Agrippa, king of Judea, built a new city wall known as the "Third Wall."
Muslims occupied Jerusalem in the 7th Century (637 CE) under the second caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab who annexed it to the Islamic Arab Empire. He granted its inhabitants an assurance treaty. After the siege of Jerusalem, Sophronius welcomed `Umar because, according to biblical prophecies allegedly known to the church in Jerusalem, "a poor, but just and powerful man" will rise to be a protector and an ally to the Christians of Jerusalem.
Sophronius believed that `Umar, a great warrior who led an austere life, was a fulfilment of this prophecy. In the account by the Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, it is said that `Umar paid a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and sat in its courtyard. When the time for prayer arrived, however, he left the church and prayed outside the compound, in order to avoid having future generations of Muslims use his prayer there as a pretext for converting the church into a mosque. Eutychius adds that `Umar also wrote a decree which he handed to the Patriarch, in which he prohibited that Muslims gather in prayer at the site. The Muslims had a great interest in Jerusalem and it became one of their holiest religious places.
Old City (Jerusalem)
The Old City (Arabic: Al-Balda al-Qadimah) is a 0.9 square kilometre (0.35 square mile) walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem, Israel. Until the 1860s this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and the Temple Mount and its Western Wall for Jews
Traditionally, the Old City has been divided into four quarters, although the current designations were introduced only in the 19th century. Today, the Old City is roughly divided into the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.
The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was largely destroyed by Jordan following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but was later restored by Israel following the Six Day War. In 1980, Jordan proposed the Old City to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. It was added to the List in 1981.In 1982, Jordan requested that it be added to the List of World Heritage Sites in danger.
In 1099 Jerusalem was captured by the Western Christian army of the First Crusade and remained in their hands until recaptured by the Arab Muslims led by Saladin, on October 2, 1187. He summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city. In 1219 the walls of the city were razed by Mu'azzim Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls; but they were again demolished by Da'ud, the emir of Kerak. In 1243 Jerusalem came again under the control of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244 and Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the city walls, rendering it again defenceless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status.
The current walls of the Old City were built in 1538 by the Muslim Ottoman Empire Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The walls stretch for approximately 4.5 kilometres, (2.8 miles), and rise to a height of 5–15 metres, (16–49 feet), with a thickness of 3 metres, (10 ft).Altogether, the Old City walls contain 43 surveillance towers and 11 gates, seven of which are presently open.
The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populous of the four quarters and is situated in the northeaster corner of the Old City, extending from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in the south, to the Damascus Gate route in the west. Its population was 22,000 in 2005. Like the other three quarters of the Old City, the Muslim quarter had a mixed population of Jews as well as Muslims and Christians until the riots of 1929. Today 60 Jewish families live in the Muslim Quarter, and a few yeshivas are located there.
The Christian Quarter is situated in the north-western corner of the Old City, extending from the New Gate (see below) in the north, along the western wall of the Old City as far as the Jaffa Gate, along the Jaffa Gate - Western Wall route in the south, bordering on the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, as far as the Damascus Gate in the east, where it borders on the Muslim Quarter. The quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity's holiest places.
The Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the four quarters of the Old City. Although the Armenian people are Christians, the Armenian Quarter is distinct from the Christian Quarter. Despite the small size and population of this quarter, the Armenians and their Patriarchate remain staunchly independent and form a vigorous presence in the Old City. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the four quarters of the city came under Jordanian control. Jordanian law required Armenians and other Christians to “give equal time to the Bible and Qur'an” in private Christian schools, and restricted the expansion of church assets. The 1967 war is remembered by residents of the quarter as a miracle, after two unexploded bombs were found inside the Armenian monastery. Today more than 3,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem, 500 of them in the Armenian Quarter. Some are temporary residents studying at the seminary or working as church functionaries. The Patriarchate owns the land in this quarter as well as valuable property in West Jerusalem and elsewhere. In 1975, a theological seminary was established in the Armenian Quarter. After the 1967 war, the Israeli government gave compensation for repairing any churches or holy sites damaged in the fighting, regardless of who caused the damage.
The Jewish Quarter (Hebrew: HaRova HaYehudi, known colloquially to residents as HaRova) lies in the south eastern sector of the walled city, and stretches from the Zion Gate in the south, along the Armenian Quarter on the west, up to the Cardo in the north and extends to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in the east. The quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BCE. In 1948 its population of about 2,000 Jews was besieged, and forced to leave en masse. The quarter had been completely sacked by the Arabs, with ancient synagogues destroyed. The quarter remained under Jordanian control until its capture by Israeli Para troops in the Six-Day War of 1967. The quarter has since been rebuilt and settled, and has a population of 2,348 (as of 2004), and many large educational institutions have taken up residence. Before being rebuilt, the quarter was carefully excavated under the supervision of Hebrew University archaeologist Nahman Avigad. The archaeological remains, on display in a series of museums and outdoor parks, to visit which tourists descend two or three stories beneath the level of the current city, collectively form one of the world's most accessible archaeological sites.
The voltage is 220 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. The electric outlets used are type H and Type C. Type H is a uniquely Israeli three-pronged standard, but most modern type H outlets can also accept type C European two-pronged plugs. In fact, most electronic devices in the Holy Land use type C plugs. Electricity is supplied by the Israel Electric Corporation. The special phone number 103 can be used to reach the customer service center.
Summer in the Holy Land is very hot, the coastal areas are humid as well as hot, and the landscapes are parched brown since it never rains in summer. The other three seasons, in contrast, have absolutely beautiful weather. In spring and autumn the temperature is near-perfect every day and nearly all days are sunny ,winter is a mixture of cold rainy days and cool, sunny days which are great for hiking and touring. So while summer may be the most convenient time to visit Holy Land, any other season is much more agreeable.
The Holy Land possesses a number of diverse regions, with landscapes varying between coast, mountain, valley and desert landscapes, with just about everything in between. Beyond the towns and cities, each region of the Holy Land holds its own unique attractions. The metropolitan areas of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv form very much their own regions; from north to south.