<p>Photo: Dome of the Rock</p>

The Dome of the Rock, one of the Muslim world’s holiest shrines, marks the spot where Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Photograph by Annie Griffiths Belt

The Talmud teaches that “Ten measures of beauty descended on the world—nine were taken by Jerusalem, one by the rest of the world. There is no beauty like the beauty of Jerusalem.” Mark Twain, however, complained in The Innocents Abroad that, “The sights are too many. They swarm about you at every step; no single foot of ground in all Jerusalem or within its neighborhood seems to be without a stirring and important history of its own.” Since Twain’s visit to the Holy Land, more than a century of strife and division have imbued the ancient city, sacred to three major world religions, with contemporary drama and made it even more multicultural and significant than ever. Jerusalem today is a schizophrenic, volatile, and fascinating meeting of ancient and modern, Israeli and Arab, religious and secular, and political and spiritual.

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