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Jerusalem: Holiest sites in the holy city

The Holy Land’s capital, Jerusalem, is the spirituality epicenter with countless religious sites sacred to Christianity, Judaism and Islam

Western Wall and Rock of the Dome in Jerusalem, Israel
Western Wall and Rock of the Dome in Jerusalem, Israel

If you are a traveler in search of spirituality, then take a flight to Israel.

Here are four of the most holy sites in this holy city:

The Temple Mount

Located in the corner of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Temple Mount is where the first and second Jewish temples were built and where Jews believe that during a messianic era a third and final temple will be erected.Today, the Temple Mount is under the control of Muslims and houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the place where Muhammad arrived on the night he ascended to heaven and spoke with Allah.

For Christians, the steps at the southern end of the Temple Mount are believed to be where Jesus would teach his disciples. Christians find the Temple Mount significant because Jesus prayed daily at the temple that was located there. 

The Western Wall

The Temple Mount’s retaining wall is best known as the Western Wall but is also called the Kotel or Wailing Wall. It is the spot closest to where the Holy of Holies inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where God dwelt was located, according to Jewish tradition. Thousands of Jews flock daily to the wall to pray. 

For Muslims, the wall also has significance. According to Islam, this is where Muhammad tied his winged horse, Al-Buraq, before ascending to heaven. 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This is where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected and is one of Christianity’s most important sites. Inside the church are the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus was anointed before burial; the Calvary, the hill where Jesus was crucified; and the Aedicule, an enclosed chapel built over the tomb of Jesus. The Aedicule contains a fragment of the round stone used to close the tomb.

King David’s Tomb

David’s Tomb is celebrated as an important site for ritual and prayer by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The tomb is in a small chamber on the ground floor of a crusader-era compound on Mount Zion.

King David was an Israelite king who ruled from approximately 1010 to 970 BCE. He conquered the Land of Israel and named Jerusalem the Jewish capital. The site of his tomb – which is now understood not to be his tomb, as David is likely buried in the City of David – gained significance for the Jews after it was won during the 1948 War of Independence. Then, when it became the border between Israel and Jordan and the closest place anyone could get to the Old City, the Jews developed it as a pilgrimage site and place of learning.

Muslims consider Daoud (Arabic for David) a king and a prophet, too. A minaret on the roof of David’s Tomb harks back to when it was a mosque dedicated in his name.

On the second floor of King David’s Tomb’s compound is a room known as the Cenacle, which has been identified as the chamber of Jesus’ last supper.

Of course, these are not all of Jerusalem’s holy sites. In Jerusalem, there are more sacred places in one place than in anywhere else in the world. So, if you are going to take a flight to Israel, be sure to plan your tour with enough time to spend in this City of Gold.