Top historic sites in Jerusalem

Tower of David

The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to western edge of the Old City of Jerusalem. The citadel that stands today dates to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. It was built on the site of an earlier ancient fortification of the Hasmonean, Herodian-era, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods, after being destroyed repeatedly during the last decades of Crusader presence in t ...
Founded: c. 700 BC | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Western Wall

The Western Wall or Wailing Wall is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple ...
Founded: 19 BCE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, a hill located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The present site is dominated by three monumental structures from the early Umayyad period: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain, as well as four minarets. Herodia ...
Founded: 10th century BCE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Whilst the entire site on which the silver-domed mosque sits, along with the Dome of the Rock, seventeen gates, and four minarets, was itself historically known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, today a narrower definition prevails, and the wider compound is usually referred to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Mu ...
Founded: 705 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, built on the site of the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had in turn been built on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The original dome ...
Founded: 691 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate is one of the main entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem. It is located in the wall on the city"s northwest side where the highway leads out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus. In its current form, the gate was built in 1537 under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Beneath the current gate, the remains of an earli ...
Founded: 100-200 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Cathedral of Saint James

Nestled within a walled compound in the ancient Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of St James is one of the most ornately decorated places of worship in the Holy Land. This ancient church, part of which dates to AD 420, is the cathedral of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion, in AD 301, and Armenian Christians ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate, as it is called in Christian literature, is the only eastern gate of the Temple Mount and one of only two that used to offer access into the city from that side. It has been walled up since medieval times. The date of its construction is disputed and no archaeological work is allowed at the gatehouse, but opinions are shared between a late Byzantine and an early Umayyad date. The Hebrew name of th ...
Founded: 520 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Tomb of the Virgin Mary

Tomb of the Virgin Mary, is a Christian tomb in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem – believed by Eastern Christians to be the burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Sacred Tradition of Eastern Christianity teaches that the Virgin Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected o ...
Founded: 0-100 BCE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, a few steps away from the Muristan. The church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as 'Calvary' or 'Golgotha', and Jesus"s empty tomb, where h ...
Founded: 335 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Church of Saint John the Baptist

The Church of Saint John the Baptist in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem is a small Greek Orthodox church. In its current form, most of the above-ground church dates to the 11th century, and the crypt to the Late Roman or Byzantine period (between ca. 324 and 500 CE). According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, the head of St. John the Baptist was held in this church. The first structure, a north-south oriente ...
Founded: 324-500 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Kidron Valley

The Kidron Valley on the eastern side of The Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, continues east through the Judean desert in the West Bank, towards the Dead Sea. The central point of reference for the upper Kidron Valley is its confluence of Jerusalem"s richest concentration of rock-hewn tombs. This area, located on the periphery of the village Silwan, was one of the ...
Founded: 100-200 BCE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.