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.To the west it faces the coastal plain and the Mediterranean Sea, about 35 miles (60 km) away.
It is dominated by the raised platform of the Al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (“The Noble Sanctuary”), a Muslim holy place containing the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqṣā Mosque, and other structures.
The rest of the area within the walls is a typical Middle Eastern city, with its mosques and madrasahs (Muslim religious colleges); its churches, convents, hospices, and residences of high ecclesiastical dignitaries; its synagogues and yeshivas (Talmudic academies); its hidden courtyards and gardens; and its medieval vaulted triple bazaar in the centre and labyrinth of smaller souks along David Street, which leads from Jaffa Gate and the old Ottoman Citadel toward the Temple Mount.
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.
Although Israel’s actions were repeatedly condemned by the UN and other bodies, Israel reaffirmed Jerusalem’s standing as its capital by promulgating a special law in 1980. For Jews throughout the world it is the focus of age-old yearnings, a living proof of ancient grandeur and independence and a centre of national renaissance; for Christians it is the scene of Jesus’ agony and triumph; for Muslims it is the goal of the Prophet Muhammad’s mystic night journey and the site of one of Islam’s most sacred shrines.
The status of the city remained a central issue in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. For all three faiths it is a holy city, a centre of pilgrimage, and an object of devotion.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 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 average annual precipitation is about 24 inches (600 mm), and snowfalls—which in some years do not occur—are generally light.