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Jerusalem – A Sacred Place of Pilgrimage and Worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims

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Everything You Must Know About Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an ancient city located in ancient Judah that is now the capital of Israel. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. So, Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital, as the State of Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there while the State of Palestine ultimately foresees the city as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

It is one of the oldest cities in the world, also named as “Urusalima” on ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, probably meaning “City of Shalem” after a Canaanite deity, during the early Canaanite period.

Jerusalem stands on hills at an elevation of 2,575 feet (785 meters). The city is 60 kilometers (37 mi) east of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea. On the opposite side of the city, approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) away, is the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on Earth.

The city is characterized by a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers, and mild, wet winters. Snow flurries usually occur once or twice a winter, although the city experiences heavy snowfall every three to four years, on average, with short-lived accumulation.

Also, Jerusalem is served by highly developed communication infrastructures, making it a leading logistics hub for Israel. It is also home to several prestigious universities offering courses in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Founded in 1925, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been ranked among the top 100 schools in the world.

Jerusalem is considered a holy city in the three major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple.

 

The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus’s crucifixion there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina.

In Islamic tradition in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat), and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran.

Estimates of Jerusalem’s population during ancient times are variable and unreliable, but it is apparent that throughout the Ottoman period the city’s population remained quite small, growing significantly only since the mid-19th century.

 In 2015, Jerusalem had a population of some 850,000 residents, comprising ca. 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews and 300,000 Palestinians.  According to the numbers from the previous census, there was an increase of 10.735% to the total population.

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