Long an object of veneration and conflict, the holy city of Jerusalem has been governed, both as a provincial town and a national capital, by an extended series of dynasties and states.
In the early 20th century the city, along with all of historic Palestine, became the focus of the competing national aspirations of Zionists and Palestinian Arabs. The United Nations (UN) attempted to declare the city a (Latin: “separate entity”)—and, thus, avert further conflict—but the first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, left Jerusalem divided into Israeli (west Jerusalem) and Jordanian (east Jerusalem) sectors.
Yet outside the walls Jerusalem is in every sense a modern city, with its network of streets and transportation, high-rise buildings, supermarkets, businesses, schools, restaurants, and coffeehouses.
The persistent mingling of Hebrew, Arabic, English, and other languages in the streets brings to mind the multicultural and political complexities of life in this revered city.
The only venomous snake is the Palestine viper, but this is rarely seen in urban areas.
The smooth lizard and common chameleon frequent gardens and the walls of houses.
The following year Israel declared the city its capital.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish state occupied the Jordanian sector and shortly thereafter expanded the city boundaries—thereby annexing some areas of the West Bank previously held by the Jordanians—and extended its jurisdiction over the unified city. (For more information on the conflict between Israel and the Arabs, Jerusalem plays a central role in the spiritual and emotional perspective of the three major monotheistic religions.Sunlight falling on the white and pink stone used for all construction gives even quite mundane buildings an aura of distinction.The scent of cooking and spices, the peal of church bells, the calls of muezzins from minarets, and the chanting of Jewish prayers at the Western (Wailing) Wall all add flavour to the life of the city.Jerusalem stands on hills at an elevation of 2,575 feet (785 metres).The modern unified city is the largest municipality in Israel or the West Bank and is the heart of an urban agglomeration that spills outside the city limits into adjacent areas of both jurisdictions.The first neighbourhoods outside the Old City walls, built from the 1860s onward, were scattered chiefly along the main roads from the west and northwest leading into the city.