The holy city of three different religions, Jerusalem is every bit as beautiful and wondrous as it is twisted. Nowhere in the world is as rich in religious history as Jerusalem’s Old City. You can walk in the footsteps of Jesus and prophets, sleep under the same stars which guided crusaders thousands of years ago and worship at the holiest sites in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim worlds.
But nowhere is also as divided as Jerusalem. The city has always been at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with both proclaiming it as their capital. While Ramallah has evolved into the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, ask any Palestinian what their capital is and they will tell you Jerusalem. For this is the home of the iconic Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque, with the breath-taking gold dome which punctuates the historic cityscape. Yet just metres away is the most important site in Judaism, the Western Wall which is believed to be the last remnant of the Temple on the Mount.
The beating Arabic heart of Jerusalem is rich and bewildering, an Old City alive with colour, smell and sound. While the Christian quarter is fit to burst with hauntingly beautiful churches. If ever somewhere deserved the title ‘living history’, this is it. Jerusalem also exists outside the ornate gates of the Old City, with the 21st century making its influence felt through the emergence of smart shopping centres, dining quarters and numerous more visitor attractions. There is just so much to see and do in this city, it’s easy to see why it attracts around 3.5 million visitors every year.
This city will fascinate you, teach you and unnerve you, but, more than anything, it will leave you wanting more. Welcome to Jerusalem.