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al Quds, “the Saint”, the Arabic name best expresses the characteristics of Jerusalem, so beautiful and sacred as to be coveted by all, condemning its inhabitants to an endless resistance struggle
The words of Ibn Battuta about the Dome of the Rock
It is one of the most admirable, perfect and extraordinary buildings, boasts all sorts of attractions and has an infinite number of wonders. Located on a hill in the center of the Sanctuary, it is accessed by a marble staircase and has 4 doors. The floor around it, as well as the one below the dome, is covered with perfectly worked marbles and both inside and outside the decorations are so enchanting that it cannot be said: mostly they are covered with gold, so that the dome shines with light and shines like the lightning flash.
The gaze, when contemplating it, is dazzled by its beauties, and the language of the observer is unable to describe it. At the center of the dome stands the noble rock mentioned in the hadiths, from which the Prophet ascended into heaven: it is very compact and almost as tall as a man.“The travels” of Ibn Battuta
Jerusalem, the city of peace
According to the Bible, the city was founded by the Canaanites, a community that first occupied the area around Jerusalem, in which remains dating back to 3000 BC were found. it will be only with David that the Jews will conquer it, immediately transforming it into the capital of the Kingdom of Judah. The second Jewish king will be Solomon, who erected his famous temple there, which, once destroyed, would condemn the Jews to Babylonian Captivity. Once freed from Cyrus the great, the Jewish people rebuilt it, but, from that moment on, the fate of the city will mostly be linked to foreign powers. After the Persians, in fact, the city was dominated by Alexander the Great and the kingdoms he generated, passing only briefly under the Jewish kingdom of the Hasmoneans and finally under the Roman Empire.
Under the latter the climate became extremely tense, bringing, in 66 AD. the First Roman-Jewish War, which ended with the destruction of the Second Temple and of the city in general which, according to chroniclers of the time, was literally devastated. Aelia Capitolina will be founded with the emperor Hadrian, a colony that will rise right on the remains of Jerusalem; given the past, however, the Romans prevented access to the Jews, except for the feast of Tisha b’Av, which recalls this event. With the transformation of the Empire from pagan to Christian, access to the city was instead guaranteed to the latter, transforming the city from Jewish to Christian and also leading to the construction of several churches, including that of the Holy Sepulcher, desired by Constantine in person.
Al Quds, the Saint
After a series of clashes between the Sassanids and the Byzantines, it was finally conquered by the Arabs, who had been deeply linked to her since the times of the Prophet. Jerusalem was in fact the first place to which the first Muslims prayed, moreover Muhammad made his famous ascent to heaven right here. Precisely for this reason, the new conquerors proved extremely accommodating, allowing the return to the Jews and taking great care not to create the conditions for future clashes; in this regard, it is famous that Umar ibn al Khattab refused to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to prevent Muslims from making claims to the sacred place by virtue of this gesture.
With the decline of the caliphate, Jerusalem also gradually lost importance, being conquered by the Seljuks and the crusaders, who killed the entire “non-Christian” population and replaced it with new Christian faithful, transforming, in the meantime, the mosque of al- Aqsa in a palace and the Dome of the Rock in a mosque. Saladin, unlike the Europeans, limited himself to driving out the Franks (but not the Eastern Christians, who could stay in the city) and restoring the previous Arab order. A real quiet, however, occurred only with the arrival of the Ottomans in 1517 who finally brought stability to the region.
Under the Sublime Gate, Jerusalem experienced a great urban and cultural expansion, including the construction of the Walls of Suleiman, but it lost commercial importance due to the new caravan routes that did not see it as a protagonist. However, the city will be among the first in the Levant to experiment with modern services, such as post office, and an innovative transport network that could even count on a railway.
Furthermore, under the Ottomans, Jerusalem experienced a climate of profound tolerance that would push many Jews and Christians to move here; in fact many new neighborhoods were built in 1800, which constantly made the already large Jewish community grow.
In 1917 it was conquered by the British general Allenby, becoming the most important city within the infamous British Mandate of Palestine. From that moment on, relations between Jews and other religious communities deteriorated very quickly, very quickly leading to real clashes for city domination. During the latter the city was literally divided into two parts, bringing infinite anger and sadness to both sides. In fact, many families were driven out of their homes and on both sides there were brutal episodes of desacralization, something that still demands revenge from God.
Like all the West Bank, East Jerusalem also came under Jordanian control until the 6-day War, when the city population grew by 196% and Israel exercised absolute control, worrying about a forced Judaization of the whole city, including the part East. Even today, the status of Jerusalem is one of the main points of clash for peace agreements, with the Zionists and Palestinians who would like to make each their own capital and the UN which instead pushes for it to be free and supranational.
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