If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Not a holy city, the Holy City. Since the Bible Times, more prophecies and/or religious pronouncements have directly concerned it than any other location on the planet. Religious and political capital of the State of Israel as well as its largest city, Jerusalem is home to about 800,000 people depending on where your favorite fringe political faction draws the city limits. Everything is built of a very pretty limestone known as Jerusalem Stone so that the New City in Western Jerusalem can match the appearance of the comparatively small Old City.
Known for its wide variety of religious figures, ranging from too many kinds of ultra-Orthodox Jews to describe here to Franciscan monks to robed-and-veiled Sunni Muslim Arabs. Everyone wants to own it, and a fair number of those who don't own it have shown themselves willing to blow bits up to acquire it. As a result the city is divided into quarters to help keep everyone from doing so; Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian note There was also a "Moroccan Quarter", a part of the city adjoining the Muslim and Jewish Quarters inhabited by Moroccan Muslims; it was demolished a few days after the Israeli seizure of the Old City for being too close to the Western Wall and absorbed into the Jewish Quarter. Unfortunately for many who want to own Jerusalem, property prices have been driven up by foreigners buying themselves combination vacation-homes and pilgrimage lodges in the form of apartments in some of Jerusalem's better neighborhoods. Thus, particularly in the Armenian and Christian quarters, the populations have been in decline.
Major sites include the Dome of the Rock, where Islam holds Muhammad ascended into heaven, which is also built on the Temple mount where the Second Temple was built. This is a bit of a issue as that's the holiest site in Judaism. Dealing with this has mostly been put on hold by a general consensus amongst Ultra-Orthodox rabbis that it would be blasphemous for a Jew who is not a High Priest (a role that has not been fulfilled for milennia) to set foot in the Holy of Holies, and since no one knows for sure which part of the Temple Mount used to be the Holy of Holies, Jews generally satisfy themselves with worshiping at the Kotel/Western Wall/Weeping Wall, an old retaining wall of the Second Temple. The Wall is divided into a men's side and a (much smaller) women's side, and women until very recently were forbidden from wearing prayer shawls, bringing Torahs to the Wall, or praying in non-Orthodox ways, although these restrictions have been lifted as a place for "pluralistic prayer" is being established. Christians have the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was buried before His resurrection. This, too, is divided, as the various Christian churches kept fighting over who could run the church at the site; different pieces of the church are controlled by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, with some parts under joint custody. There's still some squabbling about repairs in the common areas—which have to be agreed to by all five of the aforementioned churches—but it's not as bad as in the past: they used to argue about who would get the keys and open the door to the place, a problem eventually solved by Saladin, when he just gave those responsibilities to a pair of Muslim families (responsibilities they execute to this day).
Fun fact, Jerusalem Syndrome is where persons with no previous mental disorders enter the city and proclaims themselves a prophet or Messiah.
Probably one of the few cities on Earth containing shopping malls, walking promenades, and old-style suqat. Speaking of the suqs, cut whatever price someone wants to charge you in half and drive a hard bargain from there, except on food.note
Despite being a holy city, Jerusalem also has a large, thriving secular population. If you look hard enough, you can find businesses open on the Sabbath, cheeseburgers, and numerous cultural festivals. The city has its own light rail system, and will receive a terminal station for a high-speed rail line Real Soon Now. It also contains Israel's most prestigious higher education facility - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
By Israeli law, Jerusalem is officially the capital of the State of Israel; the Knesset, note President's Office, Prime Minister's Office, Supreme Court, and most government ministries are based in West Jerusalem. However, because Jerusalem was supposed to have been a city under international administration under the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947(rejected by the Arabs), the international community decided that it would be unseemly to ratify Israel's decision to take the city by force, so all countries continue to maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.note Additionally, Israeli legislation makes the whole city of Jerusalem the indivisible capital of Israel; this angers Palestinians and dismays pragmatic Israelis and foreigners, recognizing that a partition of the city is likely should the two-state solution be enacted. As a result, the statement "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel" is at once completely non-controversial and extremely controversial.
Not to be confused with the unofficial British national anthem which is only tangentially related to this concept.
Jerusalem in fiction:
- Asterix goes there in Asterix and the Black Gold.
- Guy Delisle's graphic memoir Jerusalem, essentially a travelogue of his trip there in comic form.
- Kingdom of Heaven, being set during the Crusades is mostly set in and around Jerusalem (but was actually filmed in Morocco).
Balian: What is Jerusalem worth?Saladin: Nothing. (beat) Everything!
- Jerusalem is a prominent location in World War Z.
- Interestingly, Israel explicitly abandons the city in the book, due to it being tactically indefensible.
- The Bible, of course. It has a primonent place in the mortal life of the Christ, specially since it ended there.
- Ben-Hur and all of its adaptations.
- In A Wolf in the Soul, the protagonist moves to Jerusalem for the middle third of the book, hoping that its holiness will help him fight his budding lycanthropy.
- Mark Thomas' account of his long stay in Israel and the Occupied Territories, Extreme Rambling: Walking The Wall describes his stays in Jerusalem in some detail. Thomas spent time with local people and guides on both sides of the dividing wall and his account is both interesting and informative.
- Independence Day: War in the Desert opens with the destruction of Jerusalem by the alien invaders.
- Jerusalem is one of the main playable locations in the original Assassins Creed. The developers faithfully recreated many of the famous landmarks, even if on a smaller scale, except for the walls around the city, which were made much larger than life. Presumably this was done to prevent climbing said walls, a sort of Insurmountable Waist-High Fence in a game where climbing is a primary gameplay mechanism.
- The city is a playable location in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Sam Fisher must infiltrate a Syrian terrorist base in the undergrounds of the city in order to find a virus container. He is helped by a female Shin Bet agent (who will later try to kill him if the player doesn't kill her before Sam enters the base).
- As mentioned on the Israel page, The Simpsons go to Jerusalem in one episode.