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Jerusalem Facts

Historic Recreation: Jesus on the way to his death.

Historic Recreation: Jesus on the way to his death.

  • After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Jerusalem was divided in two parts – West Jerusalem was under Israeli control and East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control.  Israel annexed East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank during the Six-Day War in 1967, but the boundaries of the city and the state of Israel remain contentious.

  • The West Bank is on the eastern side of the state of Israel. It received its name because it is on the west side of the Jordan River.

  • It is believed that the Old City of Jerusalem has been inhabited continuously for almost 5,000 years.

  • The Old City of Jerusalem has four quarters – the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.

  • The Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary covers almost one-sixth of the area of the Old City. The platform that marks the boundary of the Sanctuary was originally built by Herod the Great to support the Jewish Temple.

  • Muslims started building on the mount after the conquest of Jerusalem in 638. Some of the first structures built were the Aqsa Mosque in 639/40 and the Dome of the Rock in 691/2. With the exception of 88 years of rule by the Crusaders, the mount has been in Muslim hands for almost 1300 years.

  • The Crusaders captured the City of Jerusalem in 1099.  In 1187, the Muslim warrior Saladin retook the city from the Crusaders.

  • In 1947, the UN proposed separate Jewish and Arab states with Jerusalem placed under international control.

  • More than 3 billion people across the world – Christians, Muslims and Jews – believe that Abraham is the spiritual ancestor of their faiths. 

  • The length of the Western Wall is 488 meters / 1,600 feet.  320 meters / 1,050 feet of that length runs beneath the streets and houses of the Old City of Jerusalem.

  • Scholars believe that the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar and his army.  In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed and burned the Second Jewish Temple.

  • The destruction of the Temple is still mourned today.  The 9th of Av on the Jewish calendar is a day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the Temple.

  • Emperor Constantine ordered a great church to be built around the site that was thought to be the Tomb of Christ.  The Church was dedicated in 335 AD and a newer structure on the same site is now known as The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

  • The modern route of the Via Dolorosa (the Path of Sorrows) runs through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem and ends in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  The last 5 of 14 stations are inside the Church.  Many Christians believe that this is the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion.

  • According to tradition, Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem until 622, when the direction of prayer was changed to Mecca.