Millions of visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem yearly ask themselves: “So, what is it about Jerusalem that makes it so special?”. And indeed, it’s a fair question – everybody has heard about Jerusalem, everybody knows of its historical importance – but, coming to think about it, why is it so?
Central Location – The Old City of Jerusalem as a Strategic Point for Merchants
One answer to explain how Jerusalem became important lies in its location: it’s on a land bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe. When the great ancient empires of Shumar and Egypt emerged some 7 thousand years ago – this was the short bridge between them, and when they fought or traded with each other, they had to pass here. The great shift in human history, from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, begun in the Middle East when men learned how to mix tin, which was dug in the mountains of Armenia, with copper, which was dug in the deserts of Sinai. To do that, they had to pass by the hill, which will eventually become Jerusalem. This great location remained important when the great Greek and Roman empires rose in Europe, and traded with Yemen, India and China.
Ancient City with Many Secrets
Another answer lies in the mere fact that Jerusalem is so old. The oldest human traces in Jerusalem are from Neolithic Era, some 60 thousand years ago. The oldest ruins are from around 3500 B.C., and the oldest remains of a wall are from 1800 B.C., which makes Jerusalem a 3800 years old city. Being so old means you must carry many memories, scars and wrinkles, but must also mean you know something about this world, and have the wisdom only those who are very old have.
Sacred City for Many Religions
Probably the most famous answer, and one which is hard to debate with, lies in God: Jerusalem is a holy city. According to the TANAKH, when King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, around 950 B.C., he explained that God has chosen this place, and will keep an eye on it; That any prayer said to god, anywhere in the world, will be drifted from across the world to this temple, and here it will reach God’s attention. As times passed – weather God’s attention is indeed dedicated to Jerusalem or not – more and more peoples, tribes, empires, kingdoms, religions and states fought to get a hold of it. It was known as the place of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the place of his empty tomb, it was known as the place of the ascension of Mohamed the Prophet and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was known as the center of the universe, the end of the world, the place of birth of Adam the first man, the place of Judgment Day and the place of resurrection for all the dead at the end of times.
So, What makes Jerusalem important? As always, there’s more than one question. Maybe it lies in its location and geography, or maybe in the fact it is so old. Maybe it lies in its rich and exhaustive history and its many archaeological layers and maybe in its sacredness and divinity. Maybe it is important because it’s a national capital – for the Jewish People or the Palestinian People, and perhaps all of the above. But, if you’ll ask local Jerusalemites who live in the city today, you might hear some very different answers: Because it has gorgeous neighborhoods, the best Hummus places, the most exciting nightlife and just a vivacious and vibrant atmosphere.
Some might say, all of these are just enough to make a city special, and even moreso when talking about the Old City of Jerusalem.