Jerusalem, Now and Then

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 at 11:41 am  Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is one of the most amazing cities in the world.Jerusalem remains a chief site of the major religions of the world, as it is surrounded by a history of thousands of years of culture and civilization.

This unique city has been sought after by kings and countries for centuries.  Perhaps this helps explain why Jerusalem remains one of the most interesting and relaxing vacation spots in the world.  The combination of the history of this culture, along with the modern civilization of Jerusalem’s interesting lifestyle and people, enables tourists to relax and enjoy their vacations.

King David decided back in 1010 BC that he wanted Jerusalem to be the capital of his country, Israel.  David, a man of war and independence, took over the Jebusites and began to make plans to build a place of worship in the great city.  His son, Solomon, deemed the wisest man in the entire world, actually built the temple during a peaceful time in Jewish history.  This temple is still a place of worship today, a landmark to the people of Israel.

After the death of King Solomon, the Israelite nation was divided into two parts due to a civil war.  Jerusalem remained a part of the southern kingdom of Judah until nearly 700 BC when the Assyrians conquered the country.  In 600 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away all rights of the city when he invaded Jerusalem.  Zedekiah, a Jew, was placed in charge of the country, but only as a puppet ruler.  Zedekiah refused to comply and finally, eighteen months later, Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city of Jerusalem and deported most of the population to Babylon.

There were many similar battles that took place in Jerusalem’s history until the Roman army, under King Herod’s rule, took control of the city.  Herod rebuilt the second Great Temple and doubled the size of the original Temple Mount, surrounding it with great protective walls.  The wall on the western side is the longest and is the area where the Jews still meet to pray.  “To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy” has been the prayer of the Jews for thousands of years.  This wall is considered the holiest place in Judaism and it still exists today as the last wall of the Jewish temple.

For the next several hundred years, the Romans maintained control of the country.  The Jews helped the Muslims defeat the Persians in about 600 AD and Islam then began to gain popularity.  Once again, the Jews were able to settle in Jerusalem.  However, in 1099, the pope unified crusades to kill all the Jews by burning them alive in one of their synagogues.

There were other wars and crusades that took place and at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Turks began to take over Jerusalem.  They were only interested in the Holy Land as a place to prosper financially, thus, they began to require huge taxes of the Jews.  Finally, the Zionist movement allowed the Jews to return to Palestine so they could establish what is known as the first modern Jewish settlement.

In 1917, the British took control of Jerusalem and it became a part of the British Mandate.  Their war for independence in 1948 divided Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan.  Jerusalem was again united in 1967 when the Jordanians were driven out of the country.  Regardless of the issues the Israelites have faced, they remain unanimous in the fact that Jerusalem must always remain the undivided capital of Israel.

Although Jerusalem has had her difficult times, she remains one of the most interesting and diverse cities in the world.  Modern Jerusalem has been built around the Old City’s four walls.  The Western Wall, where Jews meet to pray, the Temple Mount, and the Al Aqsa Mosque are a few of the holy sites in the area.  There are multiple places that will be of interest to tourists by providing hours of entertainment and education.

Other interesting places to visit include the Mount of Olives and the West Wall Tunnels, where there are regular tours.  Yad Avshalom, believed to be the tomb of Absalom, King David’s son, and Zedekiah’s Cave are both sites worth visiting.  Mount Zion is of great interest to tourists, as this is the location where Jesus partook of the Last Supper with his disciples.

There are a wide range of accommodations in the area to provide visitors with the comfort necessary to enjoy a relaxing and carefree vacation.  There are hotels in Israel of every size and price range to meet the needs of tourists.  Dead Sea hotels are plentiful as well, where you will find luxury rooms, spas and accessibility to all your traveling needs – just 30 minutes away from Jerusalem.  Finding a Jerusalem hotel is not difficult and you will find that there are hotels in every location – in the midst of the bustling metro or inside the old city.  Visiting this modern city teeming with life, culture and history, will not leave you disappointed, regardless of where you decide to stay.

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