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Jerusalem

Described as a city of crossroads, Jerusalem is sacred to three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Concentrated in a span of just a few hundred feet are situated the Holy Sepulcher, the Wailing Wall and the Al-Asqa Mosque, this city of peace and humanity is first mentioned in the Bible under the name Salem.

Located eleven miles west of the Dead Sea, Jerusalem is the city in which Christians believe Jesus entered by donkey on the Sunday prior to his Crucifixion, now referred to by Christian followers as Palm Sunday. The people of Jerusalem reportedly greeted Jesus Christ with leaves, including palm leaves and used these leaves, as well as garments, to pave the road upon his entry into the city:

ďA very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." (Matthew 21:8-11).

In the third century, Jerusalem became a Christian center under Constantine, when the Emperorís mother, Helena, ordered the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the site believed to be that of the Crucifixion. The Church is set in the Christian Quarter, an area tucked into the northwest corner of the Old City. Here nuns, monks, vendors selling rosaries and tourists with their video cameras brush shoulders, while religious pilgrims mediate as the walk along the Via Dolorosa.

Just outside the Old City Walls to the east lies an area known as Eastern Jerusalem. Here lies the Garden Tomb, thought to be the place of Golgotha and the Jesus tomb. Nearby the Garden Tomb is the Basilica of St. Stephen, a monastery dedcicated to the first martyr. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre also claims to be the spot where Jesus died and place of the Jesus tomb. And with the new movie The Lost Tomb of Jesus, there is now a new solid claim to the location of this sacred site.

Today, Jerusalem is the site of many important archeological discoveries that are helping scientists and historians unravel many of the mysteries of the Bible and of the life of Jesus Christ.


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