A Brief History of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and getting an overall understanding of the history is extremely useful for anyone visiting the City of Gold. As you tour the various sites you’ll hear names of historic periods, leaders and events so this brief history of Jerusalem will help you get some perspective.

Mount of Olives-Kidron Valley, ancient burial tomb of Zachariah and on the left the tomb of Benei Hezir

3500BC – First signs of human settlers.

c.1800BC – Jerusalem mentioned in Egyptian texts.

1010-970BC – Reign of King David, during this time he declares Jerusalem Capital of United Israel.

970-931BC – Reign of King Solomon, during this time the First Temple was constructed in Jerusalem (957BC) on Temple Mount and the county was divided into Israel and Judah.

837-800BC – Reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah, during this time the underground waterways from Gihon Spring to Siloam Pool were dug to bring water to the city.

597BC – Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem.

586BC – Due to rebellion Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the city, including the First Temple and exiled many inhabitants including Jews who were sent to Babylon.

537BC-332BC – The Persian Period

Persians rule under Cyrus who encouraged Jews to return to Israel and begin work on rebuilding the Temple.

521BC-516BC – The Second Temple was completed.

445BC – City walls are rebuilt.

332BC-167BC – Hellenistic Period

Alexander the Great conquers Palestine, taking it from the Persians.

167BC-63BC – Hasmonean Period

With the Maccabian Revolt led by Mattathias the Maccabean War is started and Jewish Priest Judah Maccabee takes over Jerusalem and restores the Temple which had been profaned under the earlier non-Jewish leaders.

63BC -324AD – Roman Period

Romans capture Jerusalem but the Hasmoneans continue to rule under Roman protection.

40BC – Herod is appointed King of Judea and reigns as Herod the Great. Under Herod they begain rebuilding the Temple.

1 – Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem.

26AD – Pontius Pilate appointed as Roman procurator of Judea.

c.40AD – Jesus is tried and crucified in Jerusalem.

41AD-44AD – Agrippa King of Judea rebuilds the city walls.

63AD – The Second Temple is completed.

66AD-73AD – Jewish Revolt against the Romans, during this time the Temple was destroyed (70AD) by Titus.

132AD-135AD – Following the Bar Kochba War Jerusalem becomes the Jewish capital once again.

135AD – Roman Emperor Hadrian captured and destroyed the city, built new city walls and expelling Jews from the capital.

324AD-638AD – Queen Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine comes to Jerusalem and sets about identifying the locations of famous Biblical events. She initiates the construction of several churches on holy sites including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, constructed in 335AD. The Jews are permitted to return to Jerusalem (438); the city is captured by the Persians and the Jews are expelled (614) and then the Byzantines recapture the capital (629).

638AD-1099AD – Muslim Period

During this time the Caliph Omar comes to the city and the Jews are allowed to return. The Dome of the Rock is completed (691) and the al-Aqsa Mosque is completed (701). Under Caliph al-Hakim many synagogues and churches are destroyed.

1099AD-1244AD – Crusader Period

Godfrey de Bouillon captures Jerusalem, and Baldwin I is declared King of Jerusalem.

1187AD – Saladin, a Kurdish General takes Jerusalem from the Crusaders and allows Jews and Muslims to return to the city.

1192AD – Richard the Lion Heart attempts to capture Jerusalem but having failed makes a treaty with Saladin allowing Christians to prey at the holy sites.

1219 – Sultan Malik-al-Muattam has the city walls destroyed.

1244AD – The Turks capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders once and for all.

1260AD-1517AD – Mameluk Period

During this period the Mameluks capture Jerusalem; Nahmanides the great Jewish thinker arrives from Spain and established Jewish learning centers (1267AD); Marco Polo passes though and the Black Death plagues the city.

1517AD-1917AD – Ottoman Period

The Turkish Ottomans peacefully take over the city and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the city walls which have not stood for over 300 years. The walls include the city gates and Tower of David which remains today.

1700AD – Under Rabbi Yehuda HaHassid the Hurva Synagogue is built.

1860AD – First Jewish settlements outside the city walls to escape overcrowding and disease.

1917-1948 British Mandate Period

The British led by General Allenby enter the city and lay their claim to the land. The construction of the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus beings.

1947 –1949 – With the announcement of the UN resolution to partition Israel into an Arab State, Jewish State and Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem civil war breaks out. This results in the end of the British Mandate and the Israeli War of Independence. Egypt, Syria and Jordan fight against the Jewish State which is just coming into shape. The Israel-TransJordan Armistice Agreement (April 1949) gives TransJordan control of East Jerusalem.

1949 – Establishment of the State of Israel

1967 – Six Day War between Israel and Jordan, Israel captures the Old City which had been under Jordanian rule since 1949 and the Old City is united.