Located in the heart of Israel, Jerusalem is the center for the spiritual world's three largest religions. Throughout its millennia-old history, Jerusalem has been known by many names: Salem, Zion, Hierosolymae, Al-Quds and others, and no city has ever been in more dispute. In scripture, the city's history began nearly 4,000 years ago, when Abraham met Melchizedek, King of Salem. Its significance as a "holy land" is evident by the number of religions that call it their spiritual home. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have struggled for its possession. In the 26 times a new group took over leadership of the city, the "City of Peace" has seen very little of its namesake, even through modern times, and 35 times it was at least partially destroyed. In light of the volatile nature of the Middle East, and today's ongoing conflicts, it is important that we understand why Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lay claim to Jerusalem. Through an in-depth study of the various holy sites in Jerusalem, you'll begin to see which are considered sacred and to whom. And through an investigation of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, you will see the many different perspectives of pilgrims in days of long ago, and even today.
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