Jerusalem is one of the world's most important cities, held sacred by three religious traditions, and it's now possible to virtually visit its holy places in an unprecedented way thanks to the vision and daring of the team behind "Jerusalem," a new giant screen film presented by National Geographic Entertainment.
Producers Taran Davies, George Duffield, and Daniel Ferguson faced huge challenges to gain access to sacred spaces as well as the airspace above the holy city, which is usually a no-fly zone. They stated in a press release, "Our goal is to look at the roots of the universal attachment to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope the juxtaposition of these different religions and cultures -- all with profound spiritual and historical connections to the city -- will reveal how much Jews, Christians and Muslims have in common and inspire all of us to better understand each other."
But how to tell the story of Jerusalem without just focusing on politics? Enter three teenage girls from each faith: Farah Ammouri, a Muslim, Nadia Tadros, from a Greek Orthodox and Catholic family, and Revital Zacharie, a Jew.
Ferguson asked each of the girls to take him (separately) on a one-day tour of Jerusalem, which he filmed. “What was really amazing was that they would bring me to some of the same places in the city and tell me entirely different things. Revital would point out Jewish history, but when I asked her if she knew about the Christian or Muslim attachment to the same places, she didn’t. The same was true of the other girls.”
Start your "Jerusalem" journey here:
Exclusive: A computer-generated recreation of Jerusalem in the 1st century CE (AD), featuring the latest archaeological consensus on what the 2nd Temple might have looked like.
Exclusive: A rare aerial view of Jerusalem's walled Old City and the Mount of Olives, sacred ground for half our population.
Exclusive: A pre-dawn view from the rooftop of the Sisters of Zion Convent off the Via Dolorosa
Exclusive: The Ceremony of the Holy Fire takes place every year on the Saturday before Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Meant to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus, it is considered by many Orthodox Christians to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world.
Exclusive: An aerial view of the Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives, an annual event celebrated by Christian pilgrims to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem a week before his death.
A breathtaking aerial view of Masada, once a mountain fortress built by order of Herod the Great during the 1st Century BCE (BC).
A rare view of the rock at the center of the Dome of the Rock. Muslims refer to it as "as-Sakrah", the rock from where they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. In Jewish tradition, it known as "the Foundation Stone," where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son and where the Temples stood. Many historians believe the biblical Jebusites worshiped here nearly 5000 years ago.
Jerusalem's iconic Citadel (now the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem) is a fortress with archaeological findings spanning over 2,000 years.
An aerial view of the Jordan River, which lies about 30km (20mi) East of Jerusalem and flows from north of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
A group of Armenian Apostolic priests descends the stairs to the Chapel of St Helena in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Tradition holds that Helena, mother to the Emperor Constantine, discovered remnants of the True Cross here in the 4th century C.E. (AD) during the construction of the original church.
Tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims congregate at the Western Wall during Passover for the Birkat Kohanim, meaning "Priestly Blessing".
A Greek Orthodox youth choir from the town of Beit Sahour sings in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, built on the traditional site where Jesus was born.
Muslim women from nearby villages on their way to noon prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Al-Masjid al-Aqsa, meaning "The Furthest Mosque" is one of the three most important sites in Sunni Islam. At its centre is the Dome of the Rock. The entire area takes up one sixth of the walled city of Jerusalem.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 29, 2010, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, we made an unprecedented archaeological discovery related to Jesus and early Christianity. Read more..
The 2,000-year-old stone, which measures three feet by five feet and weighing a ton, was found near Jerusalem's Old City's Damascus Gate and has been called 'among the most important Latin inscriptions' discovered in the Holy City as it sheds light on the ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire. Read more here.
Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ. Read more here..
An ongoing excavation in Israel has uncovered new evidence of an ancient city buried beneath the King Solomon-era metropolis of Gezer. An international group of archaeologists has been working together for several years on the dig, located between modern-day Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to a statement released by the Israel antiquities Authority (IAA). An important historical city in its own right, Gezer is mentioned in both the Old Testament and in Egyptian historical accounts as a stop on the highway connecting ancient Egypt and Mesopotami. Read more here
Dalmanutha, a Biblical town described in the Gospel of Mark as the place where Jesus sailed after miraculously multiplying a few loaves and fish to feed 4,000 people, may have just been discovered by archaeologists, reports LiveScience. Read more here
A new study suggests that the Biblical date of Jesus' crucifixion is, in fact, possible to confirm. Read more..
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription "Bethlehem," the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday, in what experts believe to be the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus' traditional birthplace. Ancient Bethlehem Seal Unearthed In Jerusalem Archaeologists Discover Evidence That Bethlehem Existed Centuries Before Jesus
JERUSALEM (RNS) Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of artifacts dating back to the time of the biblical King David that they say closely correspond to the description of Solomon's Temple found in the Book of Kings. Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavations Find Evidence of Soloman's Temple, Archaeologists Say
JERUSALEM -- Mysterious stone carvings made thousands of years ago and recently uncovered in an excavation underneath Jerusalem have archaeologists stumped. Jerusalem Markings From Ancient Past Stump Archeologists
A colorful mosaic depicting the biblical figure Samson has been discovered in the Galilee region of Israel, according to the Israeli Antiquities Authority. The artwork was found in a synagogue in Huqoq and is well preserved even though it dates back to the late Roman period, or around the fourth or fifth century.
A series of experiments conducted by Italian researchers indicate the Shroud of Turin is likely authentic, but the team has not yet reached a definite conclusion.
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The so-called Gabriel Stone, a meter (three-foot)-tall tablet said to have been found 13 years ago on the banks of the Dead Sea, features 87 lines of an unknown prophetic text dated as early as the first century BC, at the time of the Second Jewish Temple. Read more here...
A pitcher found during an Israeli archaeological dig may shed light on a biblical mystery that has gone unsolved for thousands of years. The broken clay pitcher, discovered in a bed of ashes in the Tel Shiloh dig site in the West Bank, suggests that the ancient city -- once the de facto capital city and spiritual center of ancient Israel -- was burned to the ground, the Tazpit News Agency reports. Read more
An Israeli archaeologist says she has uncovered a rare trove of ancient coins and medallions near Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Eilat Mazar of Jerusalem's Hebrew University says among the finds are jewelry and a gold medallion with the Jewish menorah symbol etched into it. Other findings include items with additional Jewish symbols such as a ram's horn and a Torah scroll. Read more