Ultimate Guide to Jerusalem Old City
Containing thousands of years of history, both religious and architectural, Jerusalem Old City is one of Israel’s most visited attractions. If you’re visiting Israel for a shorter period of time then the Old City of Jerusalem is a must.
History of the Old city
Many many years ago ancient Jewish temples were built in this part of the city. Jesus visited many of these and eventually was crucified in this part of Jerusalem. Jesus crucifixion site can be found within the Old City, it is marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. King David conquered the Old City in the 11th century and reigned for a period of 40 years which became known as “the Golden Age’.
Muslims next took control of the city in 637AD before in 1099AD the Christian crusaders arrived. In the 1500s the great Old City walls were built by the Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent. In the Mid 1800s, the first settlements outside the city walls began to pop up and gradually Jerusalem became the city that it is today. With so many different influences and leaders over the years, you can imagine the history and memories that this City holds within its walls.
In 1848 the old City was ruled by Jordan and Jews were banished from within the City walls. The Six-Day War in 1867 saw the city retaken by Israel. Jewish people now returned to the city and repopulated all four of its quarters.
With so much significance for a number of religions, Jerusalem has remained an important pilgrimage site for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
What will you see in the Old City?
The Old City is made up of 4 distinctive quarters. The Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian areas of the city all have their own characteristics and own amazing history. All are worth visiting so make sure that you plan time to visit them. Here’s a quick overview of each quarter and what to expect from them.
In the north western area of the city, you will find the Christian quarter. Being home to around 40 holy sites this area is enclosed by the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Damascus Gate and the Junction of David Street. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is by far the main attraction of this area of the City. Dating back to the 4th century, this impressive monument is the crucifixion site of Jesus Christ.
The Jewish quarter has been inhabited since the 8th century. Jews come from all over the world to worship here. The main place of worship and the main attraction for visitors is the last remaining part of the second Holy Jewish temple here, ‘the Western Wall’. There are also some ancient Roman remains to explore where the quarter has been excavated.
The Muslim quarter is the largest in the whole city. Despite its name it is also home to a small population of Jews, this is mainly due to the fact that this area is home to ‘Temple Mount’. Temple Mount was the site on which and old Jewish Temple stood and is also said to be the area from which Muhammed ascended to heaven. The small streets of this quarter are home to many markets and where you can sample local goods and food. You’ll also find more ancient Roman remains here.
The fourth and smallest area of the city. The Christian Armenians here are recognised for their bespoke hand-painted tiles and ceramics. You can find them everywhere in the Armenian quarter, most notably used as street signs. Don’t forget to pick up your own before you leave! At the centre of this area, you will find the St. James Monastery which is well worth the visit to get a taste of the Armenian culture.
Taking a trip to the Old City is something you should definitely consider when visiting Israel. You can take Jerusalem day tours with our company. The vast differences in culture and amazing history here will leave you in awe. Experiences like these are the ones you will tell for many years to come!