There is a magical quality about the Old City of Jerusalem that does not exist anywhere else in the world. Perhaps it is due to the glorious history of the towering stone walls and ancient buildings, or the sacred atmosphere that surrounds the holy sites of Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religions. The enchanting quality of Jerusalem may also come from the colourful markets and narrow alleyways, or from the city’s dynamic history - a history woven with war and peace, love and hate, destruction and resurrection.
The Old City was originally built by King David in 1004 B.C.E. and has always been considered the centre of the world. Ancient maps show the three continents known at the time: Europe, Asia, and Africa, situated in a circle with Jerusalem at their centre. Since then Jerusalem has been cherished and glorified by kings, rulers, and conquerors who attempted to storm its walls and adored by ordinary people who made it the loadstone of their faith. This was the place where the Jews built the Temple, where Jesus was crucified, and where Mohammed rose to Heaven. Pilgrims, beggars, merchants, students of great scholars, warriors and slaves have all walked its streets, and have praised and revered Jerusalem.
Over the years the Old City has undergone many changes which have made it one of the most interesting cities in the world as well as an important focal point for tourism in Israel.
The city, resting on the original hills of the City of David and surrounded by a wall over four kilometers long with seven gates, 34 towers, and a citadel (the Tower of David), is divided into four residential quarters: