Jerusalem is the ancient city that became significant to the Jewish people with its conquest by David, who united the Israelite tribes, became king and made Jerusalem the political and administrative seat of his kingdom around 1000 B.C. The city's significance was increased when David's son, King Solomon, constructed the Temple there. The Temple was the religious center for the people of Israel, who made the pilgrimage to the Temple three times a year.

After Solomon's death, the monarchy was split, and Jerusalem remained the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. In the eighth century B.C., the Assyrians under Sennacherib besieged the city. In 586 B.C. the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar captured the city, destroyed the Temple and exiled many Jews to Babylon. Fifty years later, when Babylon fell to the Persians, King Cyrus allowed Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. The Temple was rebuilt on the historic site, the city was resettled and resumed its status as the spiritual capital of Judaism. With the conquest of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., Jerusalem came under Hellenistic influence.

In the first century B.C., King Herod reconstructed and expanded the Temple. Although the country was under Roman rule from around 60 B.C., the Roman capital was in Caesarea. About the time of Christ's birth, Judea became a Roman province. In 66 A.D., a Jewish revolt against Roman restrictions on Jewish expression culminated in the Roman siege of Jerusalem. In 70, Titus led the Romans into Jerusalem, burnt down the Temple and destroyed the city. A thousand years of Jewish rule in Jerusalem came to an end.

In early Christianity

For Christians, Jerusalem is central to the events of the New Testament. According to the Bible, many events in Jesus' childhood and adulthood took place in Jerusalem and it was in Jerusalem that he was tried under Pontius Pilate, put to death on the cross, and rose again the third day.