Jerusalem, situated in the Judean Hills, is the capital of Israel, the seat of government and the historical, spiritual and national center of the Jewish people since King David made it the capital of his kingdom some 3,000 years ago. Sanctified by religion and tradition, by holy places and houses of worship, it is revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims the world over.
Until 1860 Jerusalem was a walled city made up of four quarters - Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian. At that time, the Jews, who by then comprised the majority of its population, began to establish new neighborhoods outside the walls, forming the nucleus of modern Jerusalem. During three decades of British Mandate administration (1918-48), the city gradually changed from a neglected provincial town of the Ottoman Empire (1517-1917) into a flourishing metropolis, with many new residential neighborhoods, each reflecting the character of the particular group living there.
Following the Arab onslaught against the newly established State of Israel, the city was divided (1949) under Israeli and Jordanian rule, and for the next 19 years concrete walls and barbed wire sealed off one part from the other. As a result of the 1967 Six Day War, the city was reunified.
Today Israel's largest city, Jerusalem has a population of more than 760,000. At once ancient and modern, it is a city of diversity, with inhabitants representing a mixture of cultures and nationalities, of religiously observant and secular lifestyles. It is a city which preserves its past and builds for the future, with carefully restored historical sites, well-landscaped green areas, modern commercial zones, industrial parks and expanding suburbs attesting to its continuity and vitality.
Jerusalem: View from Mount of Olives (Photo: I. Sztulman)