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Jerusalem

Premiered December 23 at 8/7C

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Full episode: Jerusalem (54:51)

Jerusalem: At a Glance

The Hebrew Bible instructs all Jews to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year: in spring for Passover, in summer for Shavuout, and in the fall for Sukkot. But the city is holy to more than just Jews: Christian pilgrims began coming to Jerusalem and the Holy Land within centuries of Jesus' death, and the Al Aksa Mosque, located inside the walls of the Old City, is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

Religions:Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Earliest pilgrimage on record:Christians started journeying to Jerusalem in the 1st century C.E.; Muslims began their pilgrimage in the 6th century; Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem began in the 1st millennium B.C.E.
Frequency:Varies; Jewish tradition calls for three pilgrimages a year
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Explore a map of Israel

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Use the Google maps controls to explore Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee.


Begin the Journey


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The Western Wall & The Old City

Explore the holiest site in the Jewish faith and wander the streets of the oldest part of Jerusalem.

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Al Aqsa Mosque & Dome of the Rock

Take a closer look at two of Islam's most scared sites.


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The Western Wall & The Old City

The Western Wall, also referred to as the Wailing Wall, is the single wall remaining at the site of the original Jewish Temple, built almost 3,000 years ago. Thousands of Jews visit the wall each year, writing prayers on paper and placing them in the wall's crevices as a way of sending their wishes up to God.

Surrounding the Western Wall is the Old City. Less than a square kilometer in size, this walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem is home to some of the most sacred sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Due to the large numbers of tourists that walk through its streets every year, it's also one of the city's most commercial areas.

Explore the Streets of the Old City

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Use the Google maps controls to stroll through the narrow streets of the Old City.

Bruce Feiler's Notes from the Field

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Technology at the Western Wall

Can't make the bi-annual blessing at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem? Modern technology allows you to feel like you're practically there.

"I made this trip because I was tired of feeling alone in my Judaism... [Here,] I feel a part of something much bigger than myself."

—Ahava Zarembski, pilgrim to Jerusalem



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Al-Aqsa Mosque & Dome of the Rock

The Temple Mount, located inside the walls of the Old City, is considered the third holiest Islamic site after Mecca and Medina. Two mosques are located here: Al-Aqsa, with its silver dome, and Dome of the Rock, with its golden dome. Islamic tradition says that Muhammad was transported to this area on the Night Journey, a physical and spiritual journey taken by the prophet in the 7th century.


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Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Visit the place where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

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The Jesus Trail & Galilee

Walk in the footsteps of Jesus on a four-day, 40 mile hike from Nazareth to Capernaum.


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Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem began in the 4th century, becoming popular following Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity. On his orders, a church was built on the spot where some Christians believed Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is now one of the most sacred places of the Christian faith.

Explore the Church

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Use the Google maps controls to explore the facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Bruce Feiler's Notes from the Field

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Get an exclusive look at the opening of the door of the church by Adeeb Joudeh, and see the original charter that grants his family the right to do.

"I came here thinking I would be sad, and instead I'm happy because he's not here, and that's a good thing because he still lives on with us today."

—Christina Bourne, pilgrim to Israel



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The Jesus Trail & Galilee

Established in 2007, The Jesus Trail is a four-day, 40 mile hike following in the footsteps of Jesus. It begins at Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, and culminates near Capernaum at the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus is believed to have performed miracles. Pilgrims passing through many of the key locations in Jesus's life, including the Mount of Beatitudes, where tradition says that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

Walk the Jesus Trail

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Use the Google maps controls to travel in the footsteps of Jesus from Nazareth to Capernaum.

Bruce Feiler's Notes from the Field

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The Arbel Cliffs

View the Sea of Galilee from the Arbel Cliffs while traveling on the 40-mile Jesus Trail in Israel.

"I traveled a long way to look for something to re-affirm my faith, just to arrive and realize that what and who I was looking for was at home the whole time." —Brian Kwan, pilgrim to Israel


"As a Jew in America, I really have to search out my Judaism. Here, it surrounds me."

—Ahava Zarembski, pilgrim to Jerusalem




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