History of Jerusalem

In the year 1004 BCE, King David of Israel conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of his kingdom. David renamed it “Ir David”, City of David.
His son, King Solomon, extended the city and, in a few years, built the Temple of Jerusalem, intended to house the Ark of the Covenant and the Laws that God delivered to Moses on two stone tablets on Mount Sinai.


Jerusalem, subsequently, lived through different stages of foreign domination, first by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonians (597-546 BCE) who razed the city by banishing the ruling class to Babylon and destroying the Temple in July of the year 587 BCE.


In 539 BCE the Persian King, Cyrus the Great, conquered the Babylonian Empire and allowed the return of deported Jewish communities. They went back to Jerusalem and rebuilt the city and the Temple.


Around 445 BCE, Jerusalem regained its role as capital and center of Jewish worship.


In 332 BCE Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, but Jerusalem was not destroyed. However, years later, the attempt to Hellenize Jerusalem puts an end to Greek domination with the triumph of the Maccabean rebellion led by Mattathias and his five sons. With the triumph of the Maccabees, Jerusalem becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Israel once again and the Temple is rededicated.


In 64 BCE, Jerusalem is conquered by Pompey and is annexed to the Roman Republic.


Herod the Great restored and embellished the city by building walls, towers and palaces; he expanded the Temple and propped up the courtyard with blocks of stone that weighed more than 100 tons. Under his reign, the size of the Temple was doubled, part of which is still standing, the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, a sacred place for the Jewish religion.


Shortly after Herod’s death, in the year 6 CE, Rome took direct control of what became known as the Province of Judea. Beginning in 33 CE a rising Christian church was formed in Jerusalem, where the Council of Jerusalem was also held around 49 CE.


In the year 66 the first Judeo-Roman war took place, which ended with the siege and seizure of the city by Titus in the year 70, resulting in the devastation of much of the city and the second destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.


After his victory against the Jews, the Roman emperor Hadrian incorporated the Province of Judea to several neighboring territories and renamed it Palestine Syria. He projected the reconstruction of Jerusalem as a completely Roman city and called it “Aelia Capitolina”.


Between the years 132 and 135 the rebellion of Bar Kokhba was triggered. Once controlled, it caused the start of the Jewish diaspora. Jews were banned from accessing the city and threatened with the death penalty. These actions, which were also applied to Jewish – Christians, tended to secularize the city.


As soon as Constantine I came to power, and being the first Roman emperor with Christian beliefs, he ordered the construction of Christian temples in the city, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 326.


Byzantine Jerusalem was conquered in 623 by the Arab armies. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the Jews were allowed to remain in the city. On the other hand, Christian holy places were under the protection of Muslim rulers.


At the end of the seventh century, Caliph Abd al-Malik commissioned the construction of a sanctuary on the Temple Mount, known today as the Dome of the Rock. In 710, the Al-Aqsa mosque was completed. Both temples are important religious places for the Muslim religion.


During the following four hundred years, the importance of Jerusalem declined while different Arab powers contended for its control.

Middle Ages


In 1095, at the Clermont Council, Pope Urban II convened the First Crusade aimed at reconquering Jerusalem from the Muslims. The French nobleman Godfrey de Bouillon conquered the city, massacred most of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants and created the Kingdom of Jerusalem.


During the following years the presence of Christian military orders was intermittent in the city, alternating with the presence of Muslim troops, among which Saladin distinguished himself. He besieged and conquered the city definitively in 1244.


The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed and rebuilt many times. The current walls were built in 1538 by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Ottoman era


In 1517, Jerusalem became part of the Ottoman Empire along with the rest of Palestine. The city enjoyed a prosperous period of renewal and peace under the mandate of Suleiman the Magnificent. In 1538, the wall that surrounds the Old City today was built.


In the 1860s, new neighborhoods began to develop outside the walls of the Old City to accommodate pilgrims and ease the large overpopulation and poor sanitary facilities within the city.

British Mandate of Palestine

In 1917, during the First World War, the British armies led by General Edmund Allenby captured the city after overcoming strong Ottoman resistance. With the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations granted the territories of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq to the United Kingdom as a mandate. On May 15, 1948, when the British mandate expired and one day after David Ben Gurion read the Declaration of Independence of Israel, the neighboring Arab countries began the invasion of the State of Israel, thus starting Israel´s War of Independence.


When the Arab Legion occupied the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on May 28, 1948, the two thousand residents were expelled at once. Two days later, the Hurva Synagogue, originally built in 1701, was blown up by the Jordanian Arab Legion. Due to the Arab-Israeli war the city was divided in two until its reunification after the Six Day War.


After the establishment of the State of Israel, Jerusalem was officially declared its capital. Jordan formally annexed East Jerusalem to itself in 1950. After gaining control of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jordanian administration kept and renewed Muslim holy places, but, contrary to the armistice agreements, denied Jews access to their holy places, many of which were destroyed or desecrated. As for Christian holy places, Jordan allowed very limited access and these restrictions led part of the Christian population to leave the city. During the nineteen-year Arab administration, a third of the buildings in the Jewish quarter were destroyed by the Jordanians. The synagogues were destroyed or looted. On the first day of the Six Day War, the Jordanian army attacked West Jerusalem with mortar shots. Israel’s response was immediate, and in just 48 hours, its army crushed the Arab groups, conquering the eastern part of the city and its surroundings.

Planning and reconstruction

The Old City is divided into four neighborhoods, from larger to smaller, the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.


On December 5, 1949, David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel at the time, proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel, and since then all the powers of the Israeli Government – executive, legislative and judicial – are located there, as are the residence of the President and Prime Minister of Israel, the Knesset or parliament, the Supreme Court and other government institutions. In the Six Day War of 1967, Israel conquered the eastern part of the city – the so-called East Jerusalem – that was in Jordan’s hands, annexing it to the rest of the city. On July 30, 1980, Israel included both – the eastern and western sides – in its national legislation, proclaiming it as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.


Jerusalem is considered a sacred city by the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Protection of Holy Places Act of 1967 is applicable to all religions present in the country and throughout Jerusalem.

For Christianity

Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The Calvary where Jesus was crucified can be found there, as well as the “Sepulcher of the Savior.” It is the holiest place in Christianity.


Cenacle: Second floor room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, where he appeared before the apostles and where they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.


Basilica of the Nations or the Agony: Located on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent his last moments before being arrested.


Dominus Flevit Church: From there, Jesus contemplated the holy city and wept for it (known as Flevit super illam in Latin) on Palm Sunday.


Church of Pater Noster: Place where Jesus taught the Lord´s Prayer to the disciples.


Lithostrotos: Pavement in the ancient roman Antonia Fortress where Jesus was crowned with thorns and beaten by Roman soldiers.


Via Dolorosa: The path Jesus followed with the cross from the Antonia Fortress to the Calvary, the stations are marked on it, and the last ones can be found in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.

For Islam

The Dome of the Rock located in the center of the Temple Mount, is a sanctuary – not a mosque – built around the rock in which Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. According to Islamic tradition, in a dream Muhammad ascended “from the Holy Mosque to the Far Mosque”, without mentioning any city, reaching the throne of Allah.


 However, following the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin, it is believed that he changed the meaning of this sacred place to Jerusalem to strengthen the political domination of Islam over the land of Israel.


 The Al-Aqsa Mosque located at the southern end of the Temple Esplanade, was built a few years after the Dome of the Rock and subsequently rebuilt several times. It is the most important Muslim temple in Jerusalem.

For Judaism

Jerusalem is the most sacred of the cities of Judaism, as well as the spiritual epicenter of the Jewish people. It was chosen by King David as its capital and seat of the Sacred Temple. In 1840 the Jewish community constituted the largest religious group in the city.


The city of Jerusalem is in a special category in Jewish religious law. Specifically, Jews who are not in Jerusalem pray in its direction. When the Temple of Jerusalem was built, Jerusalem observed the special laws regarding pilgrimages in Sukkot and the Shofar in Rosh Hashanah.


For thousands of years, Jerusalem was incorporated into the Jewish religious conscience. The Jewish people have studied King David’s struggle for the conquest of Jerusalem and his desire to build the Jewish Temple, as described in the Book of Samuel and the Book of Psalms. Many of King David’s wishes for Jerusalem have been adapted in popular prayers and songs. Jerusalem appears in the Hebrew Bible 669 times and Zion, which means Jerusalem, as well as the Land of Israel, appears 154 times.


The Wailing Wall is the most important place for Jews. It is the last remnant of the Jewish Temple built by Herod on the ruins of Solomon’s temple. It comprises the Western Wall, the main section of the Wall, located in the Jewish neighborhood of the Old City.


The Temple Mount (where the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are today) is considered the most sacred place, since it held the Sancta Sanctorum, where the Tablets of the Law were kept.

advanced-floating-content-close-btnEste sitio web únicamente utiliza cookies propias con finalidad técnica, no recaba ni cede datos de carácter personal de los usuarios sin su conocimiento. Sin embargo, contiene enlaces a sitios web de terceros con políticas de privacidad ajenas a las de Consulado General Honorario de Israel que usted podrá decidir si acepta o no cuando acceda a ellos.