During its long history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world. Jerusalem, a mosaic of different peoples, faiths, and nationalities. Nevertheless, despite this diversity, under the sovereignty of Israel, Jerusalem is a city that works. But has it always been this way?
Graphical overview of Jerusalem’s historical periods
Demographic history of Jerusalem
In 1482, the visiting Dominican priest Felix Fabri described Jerusalem as “a dwelling place of diverse nations of the world, and is, as it were, a collection of all manner of “abominations”. As “abominations” he listed Saracens, Greeks, Syrians, Jacobites, Abyssinians, Nestorians, Armenians, Gregorians, Maronites, Turcomans, Bedouins, Assassins, a possible Druze sect and Mamluks.
Most population data pre-1905 is based on estimates, often from foreign travellers or organisations, since previous census data usually covered wider areas such as the Jerusalem District. These estimates suggest:
- Since the end of the Crusades, Muslims formed the largest group in Jerusalem until the mid-19th century.
- Between 1838 and 1876, a number of estimates exist which conflict as to whether Jews or Muslims were the largest group during this period.
- Between 1882 and 1922 estimates conflict as to exactly when Jews became a majority of the population.
A History of Jerusalem History – in Animation
The Truth About Jerusalem
Danny Ayalon, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the United States explains the facts about Jerusalem and the Jewish People. Ayalon explains the ongoing historical, religious, cultural and physical connection of the Jews to their holy capital. Ayalon explains that in the last 2000 years empires came and left, conquered colonized and occupied Jerusalem – but they have never turned it into their capital. Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.