Jerusalem: blood and gold

A holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, Jerusalem has a fractured past and an uncertain future. Here, Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of a new biography of the city, speaks to Rob Attar about how it became so special and why it has been beset by violence for thousands of years

A view of Jerusalem's best known landmark the Dome of the Rock, a spectacular shrine on the site where Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven. (Getty Images)

This article was first published in the February 2011 edition of BBC History Magazine

Benjamin Disraeli summed it up when he wrote: “The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world.” A city with dozens of names and innumerable suitors, Jerusalem has been possessed or coveted by virtually all the great empires of Europe and the Middle East. It has been hotly contested by the three major monotheistic religions for over a millennium and its status continues to be a major obstacle to an Israeli/Palestinian peace agreement.

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