A high and holy place
This 35-acre plateau that towered over ancient Jerusalem is important to Jews as Temple Mount, site of the first and second temples, to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and to Christians.
First Jewish Temple
Jewish tradition holds that 3,000 years ago Solomon, son of King David, built the first Temple on the site of a threshing floor, the place where David originally erected the Tabernacle, a huge tent that housed the Ten Commandments. The Babylonians destroyed it 400 years later.
Second Jewish Temple
A few generations after the First Temple's destruction, Jews returned from exile and built the Second Temple on Temple Mount, which became the site of holy places for all three religions. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D.
Dome of the Rock
Muslims call the site Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). They believe Mohammed was transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he was lifted to heaven and received instructions on how to pray. The Dome of the Rock was built over the spot. With Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site is Islam's third holiest after Mecca and Medina.
3000 B.C. A settlement dates from this era, near Gihon Spring.
2000 - 1500 B.C. Abraham settles in Canaan. Christians and Jews believe Jerusalem is where God orders Abraham to sacrifice Abraham's son Isaac to him.
Around 1000 B.C.: David, founder of the joint kingdom of Israel and Judah, captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his capital. David's son, Solomon, builds the First Temple.
586 B.C. The Babylonians conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple and exile the Jews.
64 B.C. Pompey conquers Jerusalem for Rome. Herod, made king in 40 B.C., begins a building program, including refurbishing the Second Temple.
Around 28 A.D. Jesus of Nazareth arrives in Jerusalem, where he will be crucified. He foretells the destruction of the Temple.
70 A.D. Romans destroy the Temple following a Jewish revolt. In 135, they put down another revolt and rename the city Aelia Capitolina.
313 The city comes under the control of Constantine I, who restores its name and with his mother, Helena, builds the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
638 Muslim Arabs capture Jerusalem; the Dome of the Rock is built by 691.
1099 European Christians capture Jerusalem during the First Crusade.
1187 Muslim leader Saladin recaptures Jerusalem. Jews return and the layout of the Old City into quarters is fixed.
1517 The Muslim Ottoman Turks capture the city.
1917 The British conquer Jerusalem during World War I and make it the administrative seat of Palestine.
1947 The British turn over Palestine's future to the new United Nations, which partitions it into Arab and Jewish states. Jerusalem would be an international city.
1948 Rejecting the U.N. plan, Arab forces attack the newly proclaimed state of Israel. By war's end, Israel controls West Jerusalem, which it makes its capital. Jordan controls East Jerusalem and the Old City.
1949 - 1967 Jews are barred from from praying at the Western Wall and some Jewish areas vandalized.
1967 During a second Arab-Israeli war, Israel captures East Jerusalem, reclaiming Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It annexes East Jerusalem and some 17,500 acres.
TODAY The future of East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel but regarded by Palestinians as the eventual capital of their own state, remains one of the most sensitive hurdles in peace talks.
Sources: World Book, Encyclopedia Britannica, BBC News, USA Today, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peace Now, B’Tselem, InfoPlease Almanac, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs