Jerusalem is the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is one of the most troubled places in the world and has been on the Red List of World Heritage since 1982. The old city of Jerusalem is divided into the Muslim, Armenian, Jewish and Christian quarters. Significant architectural monuments include the city wall with its various gates, the Western Wall, numerous churches, the Via Dolorosa, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque.
|Official title:||Old city and city walls of Jerusalem|
|Cultural monument:||Old Town with the Muslim, Armenian, Jewish and Christian quarters; Architectural monuments such as the city wall with the Zion, the New, the Damascus, the Herod and the Lion Gate as well as the “Wailing Wall” (western wall), the Church of St. Anne and the Church of St. James, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Via Dolorosa, the way of Jesus with the Flagellation Chapel, the Dome of the Rock and the seven-aisled al-Aqsa Mosque|
|Country:||Israel (not named by the World Heritage Committee)|
|Meaning:||the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam|
|around 1000 BC Chr.||Mountain fortress Zion (Jerusalem)|
|587 BC Chr.||Conquest by Nebuchadnezzar and destruction of the temple|
|164 BC Chr.||The Maccabees conquered the Temple Mount|
|66||Revolt of the Jews against the Romans|
|70||Destruction of the second temple|
|135||Destruction of Jerusalem|
|335||Inauguration of the Holy Sepulcher|
|527-65||Blossom of the Byzantine Jerusalem|
|1187||Conquest by Saladin’s army|
|1538-39||Construction of the Jaffa Gate and restoration of the Lion Gate|
|1887||Construction of the new gate as access to the Christian quarter|
|1926||Damage to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher from earthquakes|
|1947||Internationalization of Jerusalem|
|1948||partial destruction of the Jewish quarter by a Jordanian attack|
|1948-67||Old City and East Jerusalem under Jordanian administration|
|June 1967||Reunification of the city|
In the footsteps of David, Solomon, Jesus and Muhammad
It has been more than six decades since I first visited Jerusalem and its Old City, but I remember that visit vividly. I felt that I was at the center of the world, surrounded by the history of the millennia. I followed in the footsteps of David, Solomon, Jesus and Muhammad, and admired the buildings of King Herod and Suleyman the Magnificent. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I started collecting old city maps of Jerusalem, that I learned that the city was depicted as the center of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries. At that time I was living in Kibbutz Ein Gev on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. While the distance to Jerusalem can now be covered in just two and a half hours by car, it took almost a whole day to travel back then, and so my visits were seldom.
Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister, made Jerusalem the capital. When he asked me to run his office there, I enthusiastically agreed. At this time a new wall was built right through Jerusalem, a border made of barbed wire and mines that separated Israel from Jordan and divided the city with the old city and the old city wall in two halves. When I was elected mayor in 1965, my office was an arm’s length from the dividing wall, and I dreamed that one day the wound in the heart of the city would be healed peacefully. But it was the Six Day War that brought about the reunification of the city.
According to franciscogardening, Mark Twain described Jerusalem in the last century as follows: “Rag, misery, poverty and filth… everywhere… Jerusalem is gloomy and desolate and lifeless, I would not wish to live here.” It was not that bad around the reunified city, but the condition of the old town had deteriorated significantly, as the preservation of the monuments had largely been neglected for decades.
After having mastered the basic urban services, we turned to the more historical challenges such as the restoration of the old city wall. After truckloads of rubble that had covered the wall up to half its height were removed, it could be viewed at its true size again. The parapet that the British originally erected on top of the wall was restored so that the wall could be stepped on to look inward – into the Old City – and outward – the Judean desert, the Mount of Olives, and the new city be able. Little by little, the Jewish, Christian and Muslim sanctuaries were restored and the Jewish quarter soon rose from the rubble. Excavations have been carried out where possible, revealing the history of the many peoples.