Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most important cities in the world. It is located on a plateau almost half way in the between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. As one of the oldest cities in the world, it has been perceived throughout time as the center of the world. It is holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam.During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.
The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE. In 1538, walls were built around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent. Today those walls define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.The Old City became a World Heritage site in 1981, and is on the list of Endangered World Heritage Stes. Modern Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries.
For Muslims worldwide, Jerusalem is of utmost spirtual significance as it is home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the three restricted destinations for Muslims' pilgrimage (along with Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina), and historically the first direction of prayers (qibla). According to Muslim tradition, it is also the site where Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) ascended to heaven from the Rock of Ascension following his Night Journey from the Noble Sanctuary in Mecca around the year 621 ( Al- Isra' wa Al Miraj, i.e., "the Night Journey and the Ascension"). In addition, Jerusalem includes a wealth of mosques,minarets, alleys. schools, khans, Sufi Lodges, and cemeteries which are precious testimony of the fourteen-century long Islamic heritage of the city and contribute greatly to its architectural splendor, without many visitors knowing.
For Christians, Jerusalem is Mater Ecclesiae ("the Mother of the Church"), the capital of Christendom, the city which witnessed the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him) and where the Christian Church was founded. This primordial religious significance is embodies in the presence of many of the most important holy places of Christianity, such as the Holy Sepulcher, the Cenacle, The Tomb of the Virgin, the Sanctuary of the Ascension, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Mount of Olives.
The locals admit that Jerusalem has the best weather year-round. The city is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, with hot-dry summers, and mild-wet winters. Snow flurries usually occur once or twice a winter, although the city experiences heavy snowfalls every three to four years. January is the coldest month of the year, with an average temperature of 9.1 °C (48.4 °F); July and August are the hottest months, with an average temperature of 24.2 °C (75.6 °F).
The average annual precipitation is around 550 mm (22 in), with rain occurring almost entirely between October and May. Be sure to always travel with a light sweater for evening walk as it may get chilly. If traveling in the summer make sure to bring light cloths and a hat.
The main languages spoken in Jerusalem are Arabic and hebrew. Jerusalem is considered an international city with most people throughout the city speaking sufficient or fluent English; you will also hear other languages spoken including Russian, Armenian, Greek, Italian, etc. English is widely spoken in areas most visited by tourists, especially the Old City.
The nearest airport is in Tel Aviv, which has connections to many destinations in the Middle East and Europe as well as a few further afield to cities in North America, Africa and Asia.
Israel Railways has trains to/from Tel Aviv via Beit Shemesh. A high-speed link will open in 2011.
Egged has buses to other cities and towns in the country, including to Tel Aviv.