Much in the news these days, Jerusalem is the heart the Holy Land and the gate way to the Old City which has stood the test of time through a long history of conquests, sieges, and occupations. According to the Hebrew bible Jerusalem was first built and occupied by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe. While much scholarly debate surrounds the dating of early peoples, there is documentation that they were living in Jerusalem in 2200 BC, perhaps even earlier.
Referred to as Al Quds in Arabic, the Old City in particular, is home to the world’s three largest religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is enclosed within large stone walls built in 1538 by the Muslim, Ottoman Empire Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. Within these walls, the Old City is divided into four quarters (Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish); and the place where Jesus was crucified can be visited -- a destination for thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
Also within the walls can be found the compound in which is located the shining, alluring, golden Dome of the Rock, one of the oldest examples of Islamic architecture, built in 691 AD; and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in the Islamic faith. Today the Old City is a bustling maze of winding cobble stone paths and narrow streets filled with stories of prophets, leaders, famous and infamous visitors of the past as wells as shops of every description selling a huge variety of goods.