View of the citadel of Jerusalem. The ancient city of Jerusalem (in Arabian Al-Quds and in Hebrew Yerushalaim, meaning city of peace) was built on two hills separated by the river Cedron. The city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC and entered history with the Jewish people by the time of King David (1004-965 BC) and King Solomon, the latter of whom built the temple and the royal palace. The Jewish kingdom was divided in 928 BC and Jerusalem became the capital of the realm ofjudah, with fortifications built by Hezekias in 701 BC. Jerusalem was devastated by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and the temple of Solomon was destroyed. After captivity in Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple and fortifications (520-445 BC). After the Greek domination (332-37 BC) and the reign of King Herod, the city was taken by the Romans in 63 BC. Already a holy place in the Jewish faith, Jerusalem as the site of Christ’s death attracted Christian pilgrims as early as the 2nd century AD. The Roman occupation lasted until 324 AD.
Jerusalem was then occupied by the Arabs in 638 and became an Islamic holy place; the mosque El-Aqsa was erected there in 691. After the first Crusade, Jerusalem became the capital of the Frankish realm Beyond the Sea in 1099, and remained so until 1187 when the city was retaken by sultan Saladin. The fall of Saint-Jeand’Acre in 1291 marked the end of the Crusades in Palestine.