Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is considered a holy city by each of the great Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Old City of Jerusalem, which has been declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations, contains such sites as the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Today Jerusalem serves as the capital of the State of Israel, though it is also claimed by the Palestinian Authority. It is located in the Judaean Mountains, to the west of the Dead Sea and to the east of the Mediterranean. The city has a population of just over 900,000. Around 64 percent of its inhabitants are Jewish, while 35 percent are Arab.
Jerusalem is believed to have been inhabited since around the year 2800 BCE. Its earliest appearance in historical record likely dates from the 19th century BCE, when ancient Egyptian tablets mention a city named Rusalim. Around the year 1010 BCE, Jerusalem was conquered from the Jebusites by King David, and proclaimed the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. The city was the seat of both the First and Second Jewish Temples, but it has known a tumultuous and violent history over the ages. Jerusalem has been burnt to the ground at least twice, and has been attacked 52 times. A long list of Empires and conquerors have controlled the city at one point or another, including the Babylonians, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Crusaders, the Mamluks, the Ottomans and the British to name but a few. These battles have continued into the modern age – in 1967 Israel captured the eastern half of the city from Jordan, reuniting it after a period of division. Jerusalem was then declared the undivided eternal capital of the Jewish people.
Here at the National Library of Israel we have a fascinating collection of materials relating to the city of Jerusalem. In addition to what you would expect to find at a library (books!), you can also browse through our digital collections, including thousands of pictures, maps, letters and documents spanning a period of several centuries! You can view a selection of these materials and articles here on this page, but feel free to browse through our Library Catalog and find exactly what interests you.