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The Old City

The eastern part of Jerusalem is the Old City, a quadrangular area built on two hills and surrounded by a wall completed in 1542 by the Ottoman sultan Sulayman I. Within the wall are four quarters. The Muslim quarter, in the east, contains a sacred enclosure, the Haram esh-Sherif (known as the Temple Mount to Jews), within which, built on the old Mt. Moriah, are the Dome of the Rock (completed 691), or Mosque of Omar, and the Mosque of al-Aksa. The wall of the Haram incorporates the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, a remnant of the retaining wall of the Second Temple and a holy place for Jews. Nearby and southwest of the Haram is the Jewish quarter, with several famous old synagogues. Partially destroyed in previous Arab-Israeli fighting, the Old City was captured in 1967 by the Israelis, who began to rebuild and renovate the Jewish quarter. To the west of the Jewish quarter is the Armenian quarter, site of the Gulbenkian Library. The Christian quarter occupies the northern and northwestern parts of the Old City. Its greatest monument is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Through the area runs the Via Dolorosa, along which Jesus is said to have carried his cross.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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