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Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, and considered a holy city by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem was settled in the 4th millennium BC, and during its long history it has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Ancient Egyptian tablets call it "Urusalim" probably meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity. During the Israelite period, significant building activity in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE (Iron Age II), and in the 8th century the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah. In 1538, the city walls were rebuilt for a last time 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 World Heritage in Danger. Since 1860 Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries. Today, 850,000 people live in Jerusalem, including 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Haredi Jews and 300,000 Palestinians.

According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple. Modern scholars argue that Jews branched out of the Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monotheistic religion centered on El/Yahweh, one of the ancient Canaanite deities. These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BCE, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. In Islamic tradition, in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran. As a result, despite its small size, the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount with its Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Outside the Old City stands the Garden Tomb.

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