It is no secret that Jerusalem is the birthplace of three of the biggest and most important religions in the world, namely Judaism, Islam and Christianity. This makes Jerusalem the holiest city in the world. Don’t be surprised to see thousands of pilgrims and religious devotees flocking to the busy streets of the Old City and queuing to the many religious landmarks in that part of Jerusalem. Religious pilgrimage in Jerusalem is a huge part of Israel’s booming tourism industry. Millions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims make it a point to visit the Holy City at least once their lifetime.
The heart of Jerusalem is the Old City. Along with local markets, ancient landmarks, cultural spots, and other cool stuff, it is within the walls of the Old City where you can find the most religious structures that symbolize the three religions. Take a closer look to understand the fuzz the Old City is all about and understand why religious people from all over the world want to come here.
The ancient walled city is divided into four uneven parts, namely the Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Jewish Quarter, and Armenian Quarter, which is the smallest portion.
Christian pilgrims come to see the Church of the Sepulcher, which is unlike any Christian churches you have seen anywhere and more important than even the largest cathedrals in Europe. The church is believed to cover two important landmarks: Golgotha or the place where Christ was crucified and the sepulcher where Christ was buried and supposed to have been resurrected from.
The main attraction and the most visited site of Christian pilgrims is the Rock of Calvary or the 12th Station of the Cross. Kept safe inside a protective glass, the piece of rock still bears a hole, which is supposedly where the cross was made to stand.
Muslim pilgrims, on the other hand, go to the northeastern corner of the Old City. The Muslim Quarter is the largest and gets the most number of pilgrims each year. They come to see the Temple Mount during the Ramadan, a month-long celebration of soul cleansing, which is also the time of the year when the Old City is most crowded.
The temple is believed to have been built by Sulayman, a leading prophet in Islam, and was later used by many Muslim prophets, including Jesus, to worship the one God through the centuries. On the Temple Mount stands the Dome of the Rock (or Noble Sanctuary) and the silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest place for Sunni Muslims. The magnificent Dome of the Rock is Islam’s oldest and most beautiful shrine (often mistaken as a mosque).
Finally, as you move to the southeastern part of the walled city, you will reach the Jewish Quarter, most popularly known to locals as Harova and where about 2,000 Jews reside. The most important landmark is clearly the Western Wall, which is a massive ancient wall believed by the Jews as what remains of the Second Temple.
King Herod constructed the Second Temple, which was later destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The 62-feet high sacred wall is also known as the Wailing Wall. To complete their pilgrimage in Jerusalem, Jews from all over Israel come to the wall to give their prayers and wail to God.