Jerusalem, Israel is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. For one, it’s really old, with the earliest settlements dating back to the Copper Age (4500-3500 BCE).
Another reason is that three of today’s key religions have laid claim to it at some point. The result is a vibrant mix of old and new, with a populace consisting of Muslims, Jews and Christians.
There’s a lot for first time visitor to experience in the city. Shopping in the Mahane Yehuda Market, sampling the finest local hummus at a restaurant downtown or catching the Night Spectacular at the Tower of David (Citadel).
But for people who are fascinated by religious history, there are a number of sites that need to be seen and appreciated. And these three religions have all left their mark on the cultural fabric of the city. There are areas were the Islam, Jewish and Christian traditions reigns supreme.
The same can be said for historical architecture here. With that in mind, here are the top picks for religious sites to include in your itinerary during your visit in Jerusalem, Israel.
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Jerusalem, Israel – Where to go if you’re into religious history
The Western Wall
Otherwise known as the Wailing Wall, this structure is the most significant historic site for the Jewish faith in Jerusalem.
Located at the heart of the Old City, it is the remnant of King Herod’s renovation of his second temple, a structure dating back to the first century B.C. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit this site to pray.
They write their wishes on pieces of paper before placing them in the cracks between the stone. The most prominent part of the wall measures 187 feet long and is accessible via the Prayer Plaza. Here, are designated areas for men and for women to pray in.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This church in the Old City is one of Christianity’s most religious sites. Many Christians believed that the land on which it was built was the location of the biblical Calvary or Golgotha where Jesus Christ was crucified.
The church itself is a sight to behold. Four magnificent arches are predominant features of its facades, its lintels decorated with Crusader Crosses.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is also a go-to destination for Pilgrims who follow the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross). In fact, the five final stations are within the church.
According to Lonely Planet, the 10th Station of the Cross is a small chapel accessible that can be reached by stairs found on the right of the church entrance. It is believed that Jesus was stripped of his garments here.
The 11th Station lies behind the previous one and is where Jesus is believed to have been nailed to the cross.
The 12th Station is called the Rock of Calvary and is the place of Jesus’s death. An altar has been built with a hole allowing pilgrims to touch the real rock.
To the left of the altar is the 13th Station, where Jesus’s body is said to have been taken down.
Finally, the 14th Station is the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre, housed in a rotunda on the church grounds.
Al-Haram Al-Sharif or Temple Mount
Al-Haram Al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary is a 35-acre compound right in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel that is designated as a World Heritage site by the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO.
This compound hosts silver-domed Al Aqsa Mosque (Islam’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi in Madinah in Saudi Arabia) and the Dome of the Rock a seventh-century structure believed to be where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to heaven.
It is a belief of Jews that the same compound is where the Jewish temples once stood and refer to this compound as the Temple Mount.
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