A Travellerspoint blog

Ansouis, Languedoc Roussillon


Ansouis is a very pretty old village, perched on a low hill with a nicely restored chateau. The village is located 25 km north of Aix-en-Provence, 8 km southeast of Lourmarin (north of the Durance river and south of the Luberon mountains). The village is well restored, with neat stone walls, and has a fair number of ancient little streets for a wandering visit.

Built in amongst the houses is a beautiful half-round bell tower, dating from the 16th century and topped with a rather angular campanile.

The town's chateau is impressive, but fairly stark from the outside. Ansouis is best visited in the afternoons: the chateau is open in the afternoons only, and some of the more interesting village sights are in the chateau grounds.

There are a lot of flowers in the village. Some are in gardens along the stone-walled terraces and in the neat gardens of the village houses. There are also little gardens around the village with hand-lettered signs giving the names of the regional wild flowers; an in-town botanical walk with a personal touch.

Commerce is minimal, but there are all the basic shops, including a terrace café. A [santon] maker has his atelier here, which opens every summer at the beginning of July.

The town's Musée Extraordinaire has a varied collection, from treasures picked up on distant sea voyages to local geological artifacts. The museum is (like the chateau) open in the afternoons.

We visited on a Sunday morning in June, and there was a market set up at the road junction just outside the village to the north (the Cucuron road).

There were one or two restaurants, but we didn't stay long enough to try any of them. Ansouis is worth stopping by for a short visit if you're in the area, but we it's not the sort of place we would seek out to spend a half-day.


The Chateau d'Ansouis was build as a hilltop fortification sometime before the year 961. It has evolved over the centuries to its current form of a fabulous estate-house, but retains some of the fortified walls and watchtowers of the earlier versions, and is classified as a national site et monument historique.

Plus Beaux (Loveliest)

Ansouis is rated one of the Plus Beaux (Lovliests) villages of France. The Plus Beaux Villages de France association rates 141 villages with this honor. The initial requirements are: popoulation under 2000, having at least two "protected" sites, and the municipality requesting they be considered.


First record, 961 Ansoyse
Prehistoric: Vestiges include pottery, signs of a lithic (stoneware) industry and millstones.
Medieval: Ansoui belonged to the counts of Forcalquier until the 13th century, when it was aquired by the Sabran, a powerful Provençal family, who still own the chateau.

Posted by airwolf09 13:28 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Roussillon, Languedoc Roussillon


This ocre-red village is a tourist destination on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse. Roussillon is a beautiful village, with its red rocks, red stone buildings and red tile roofs, but it's such an apparently well-frequented tourist site that doesn't let a traveller stop without paying.

All roads in, around and near the village have pay parking only, with a person guarding every spot with a hand out for your money. And there are no signs anywhere indicating the "official" cost of parking, so you'll have to trust to the honesty of the person and the moment, along with your knowledge of currency rates and local economic conditions, to determine if you're paying a "fair" price to stop at this village and mingle with the other tourists.

The old village is, of course, well-kept and lovely, and the remains of the ancient château which is built into the buildings. The 19th-century clock and bell tower is topped by a 19th-century wrought-iron belfry (campanile).

Giants' Causeway
The Giants' Causeway is a natural park of jagged cliffs of ochre beside the village of Roussillon. A walking tour of the park should take well under an hour. (See our Reader's Comments, below.)

Roman: Vicus russulus (from the red-ocre environs)
First record, 989: de Rossillione

Prehistoric: So many neolithic signs and artifacts have been discovered here that the site is now an important archeological reserve.
Roman: There are signs of the Roman occupation of Roussillon when they were mining ocre from the hills.
Medieval: Various Lords ruled here until the Revolution, including Agoult, Vins and Isle.

Posted by airwolf09 08:23 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Paris, Ile de France


Paris is the capital city of France, as well as the capital of the Île-de-France région, whose territory encompasses Paris and its suburbs. The city of Paris proper is also a département, called Paris département (French: département de Paris). It is a wonderful city for aimless wandering of which features a wide variety of style and décor and boasts a wide assortment of entertainment to satisfy even the most benign of tastes.

Paris, together with its suburbs and satellite cities, forms the Greater Paris metropolitan area, with a population estimated at 10.5 million as of January 2004. Paris is the third largest metropolitan area in Europe after Moscow and London.

Greater Paris metropolitan area, with a total GDP in 2003 higher than Brazil's and Russia's, is the largest financial and business center of Europe (alongside London), harboring more than 30% of France's white-collar population, as well as more than 40% of the headquarters of French companies, with the largest business district of Europe (La Défense), and the second-largest stock exchange in Europe (Euronext).

Known worldwide as the City of Lights (la Ville Lumière), Paris has been a major tourist destination and cultural hub for centuries. The city is renowned for the beauty of its architecture, its urban perspectives and avenues, as well as the wealth of its museums. The Seine River runs through the heart of Paris and is the site of the Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum to which divides the city into two parts: the Right Bank to the north and the smaller Left Bank to the south.

Formerly the capital of a colonial empire stretching over five continents, Paris is still regarded as the heart of the French-speaking world and has retained a strong international position, hosting the headquarters of the OECD and the UNESCO among others. This, combined with its financial, business, political, and tourism activities, has turned Paris into one of the major transportation hubs in the world. New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris are often listed as the four major global cities.

The original Latin name of Paris was Lutetia, or Lutetia Parisiorum, known in French as Lutèce. Lutetia was later dropped in favor of only Paris, based on the name of the Gallic Parisi tribe, whose name perhaps comes from the Celtic Gallic word parios, meaning "caldron", but this is not certain.

Traditionally Paris was known as Paname in French slang, but this vulgar appellation is gradually losing currency. ("I'm from Paname" (♫).)

The inhabitants of Paris are known as Parisians in English, as Parisiens in French. The pejorative term Parigot is sometimes used in French slang.

Locally, inhabitants of the Paris suburbs are known as banlieusards. Inhabitants of the whole Paris metropolitan area are known as Franciliens, i.e. from Île-de-France.

The name of the city comes from the name of a Gallic tribe (parisis) inhabiting the region at the time of the Roman conquest. The historical heart of Paris is the Île de la Cité, a small island now largely occupied by the huge Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. It is connected with the smaller Île Saint-Louis (another island) occupied by elegant houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Paris was occupied by a Gallic tribe until the Romans arrived in 52 BC. The invaders referred to the previous occupants as the Parisii, but called their new city Lutetia, meaning "marshy place". About 50 years later the city had spread to the left bank of the Seine, now known as the Latin Quarter, and was renamed "Paris".

Roman rule had ceased by 508, when Clovis the Frank made the city the capital of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks. In 511, he commissioned the building of the cathedral of St.Etienne on the Île. Viking invasions during the 800s forced the Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité. On March 28, 845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris was elected king of France by feudal lords while Charles III was also claiming the throne. Finally, in 987 Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France by the great feudal lords after the last Carolingian king died.

During the 11th century the city spread to the Right Bank. In the 12th and 13th centuries, which included the reign of Philip II Augustus (1180 to 1223), the city grew strongly. Main thoroughfares were paved, the first Louvre was built as a fortress, and several churches, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, were constructed or begun. Several schools on the Left Bank were grouped together into the Sorbonne, which counts Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas among its early scholars. In the Middle Ages, Paris prospered as a trading and intellectual nucleus, interrupted temporarily when the Black Death struck in the 14th century, and again in the 15th century when urban revolts drove the royal court to abandon the city for almost 100 years. Under the reign of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, from 1643 to 1715, the royal residence was moved from Paris to nearby Versailles.

The French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Many of the conflicts in the next few years were between Paris and the outlying rural areas.

In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War ended in a siege of Paris, followed by The Paris Commune followed. It surrendered in 1871 after a winter of famine and bloodshed. The Eiffel Tower, the best-known landmark in Paris, was built in 1889 in a period of prosperity known as La Belle Époque (The Beautiful period). The famous Parisian Haussmann Style also dates back to this period, during which much of the Paris known today was planned and constructed.

In 1900 Paris hosted the 1900 Summer Olympics, and hosted them again in 1924 (1924 Summer Olympics).

In June 1940, several weeks after the German attack on France during World War II, Paris fell to German occupation forces, which remained there until late-August 1944. After the battle of Normandy, Paris was liberated when the German general Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered after skirmishes to the French 2nd Armoured Division commanded by Philippe de Hauteclocque backed by the Allies.

In the late-1960s, the Tour Montparnasse, a large, modern skyscraper, was constructed just south of the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is starkly out of place in its neighborhood and ruined many of Haussmann's carefully planned vistas; as such it was one of the most immediate causes for the changes in zoning and administrative rules that now keep all urban development outside the city limits (principally confining skyscrapers to La Défense).

The metropolitan area of Paris is one of the most multi-cultural in Europe. At the 1999 census, 19.4% of the total population of the metropolitan area were born outside of metropolitan France.

As a comparison: at the 2001 UK census, 19.5% of the total population of the metropolitan area of London was born outside of the (metropolitan) United Kingdom, while at the 2000 US census 27.5% of the total population of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport metropolitan area was born outside of the United States (50 states), and 31.9% of the total population of the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County metropolitan area was born outside of the United States (50 states).

Still at the 1999 French census, 4.2% of the total population of the metropolitan area of Paris were recent migrants (i.e. people who were not living in France in 1990). The most recent immigrants to Paris come essentially from mainland China and from Africa.

Monuments and landmarks
The Eiffel Tower - a "temporary" construction of Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exposition
Arc de Triomphe - monument at the center of the Place de l'Étoile, commemorating the victories of France and honoring those who died in battle.
Les Invalides - museum and burial place of many great French soldiers, including Napoleon.
The Conciergerie - medieval building; former prison where some prominent members of the ancien régime stayed before their death during the French Revolution
Palais Garnier - Paris' central opera built in the later Second Empire period.
Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité - Paris' 12th-century ecclesiastical centrepiece
The Sorbonne - the University of Paris, the centre of Paris' Latin Quarter
Statue of Liberty - a smaller version of the New York City harbor statue which France gave to the United States in 1886, located on the Île des Cygnes on the Seine. Another version is in the Luxembourg Garden.
The Panthéon - beautiful church and tomb of a number of France's illustrious men and women
Sainte-Chapelle - 13th century Gothic palace chapel.
Église de la Madeleine
Place des Vosges - square in the Marais district laid out by Henry IV
Flame of Liberty public co-opted temporary memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales
The Wallace fountains, spread throughout the city.
The Grand Palais - a large glass exhibition hall built for the 1900 Paris Exhibition.


Louvre - a huge museum housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue.
Musée d'Orsay - an art museum housed in a converted 19th century railway station, which contains mainly Impressionist works.
Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg - houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne and a cultural center with a large public library. Famous for its external skeleton of service pipes.
Musée Rodin - a large collection of works by France's most famous sculptor
Musée du Montparnasse in the former residence of artist Marie Vassilieff at 21 Avenue du Maine, details the history of the great artistic community of Montparnasse.
Musée Cluny, also known as the Musée National du Moyen-Age, houses a large collection of art and artifacts from the Middle Ages, including the tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn.
Musée Picasso, exhibits nearly 3000 pieces of art by Pablo Picasso as well as art from his own personal collection including works by Cézanne and Matisse.

Historical centres
Montmartre - historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur and also famous for the studios and cafés of many great artists.
Champs-Élysées - a 17th-century garden promenade turned Avenue connection between the Concorde and Arc de Triomphe.
Place de la Concorde - at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, built as the "Place Louis XV" site of the infamous guillotine. The Egyptian obleisk it holds today can be considered Paris' "oldest monument".
Place de la Bastille - Former eastern stronghold and gate of Paris.
Montparnasse - historic area on the Left Bank, famous for the its artists studios, music-halls, and café life.
Quartier Latin - Paris' scholastic center from the 12th century, formerly stratching between the Left Bank's place Maubert and the Sorbonne university.

Posted by airwolf09 09:05 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Marseille, Languedoc Roussillon


Marseille (English alternate spelling Marseilles)(Provençal: Marsiho or Marsilha) is the second largest city in France and the third metropolitan area, with 1,516,340 inhabitants at the 1999 census. Located in the former province of Provence and on the Mediterranean Sea, it is France's largest commercial port and the largest in the Mediterranean.

Marseille is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur région, as well as the préfecture (capital) of the Bouches-du-Rhône département.

Marseille was founded in 600 BC by Phocaean Greeks as a trading port under the name Μασσαλία (Massalia; see also List of traditional Greek place names). It was overrun by Celts and then conquered by the Romans. During the Roman times, it was called Massilia. In 1934 Alexander I of Yugoslavia arrived at the port to meet with the French foreign minister Louis Barthou. He was assassinated there by Vlada Georgieff who hated Alexander's refusal to recognise Croatia as a separate state.

The French national anthem "La Marseillaise" is named for the Revolutionary troops from Marseille.

The most widely circulated tarot deck comes from Marseille; it is called the Tarot de Marseille, and was used to play the local variant of tarocchi before it came to the notice of people who used it in cartomancy.

The old harbor
Château d'If, an ancient prison island, where The Count of Monte Cristo was jailed, in Alexandre Dumas' novel
Unité d'Habitation de Marseille, by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier
The calanques

Marseille was the birthplace of:

Antonin Artaud (1897-1948), author
Maurice Béjart (born 1927), ballet choreographer
Jean-Henry Gourgaud, aka. "Dugazon" (1746-1809), actor
Désirée Clary (1777-1860), wife of King Carl XIV Johann of Sweden, and therefore Queen Desirée or Queen Desideria of Sweden
Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), first president of the Third Republic
Etienne Joseph Louis Garnier-Pages (1801-1841), politician
Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), caricaturist and painter
Joseph Autran (1813-1877), poet
Olivier Émile Ollivier (1825-1913), statesman
Joseph Pujol, aka. "Le Pétomane" (1857-1945), entertainer
Edmond Rostand (1868-1918), poet and dramatist
Vincent Scotto (1876-1952), guitarist, songwriter
Fernandel (1903-1971), actor
Eliane Browne-Bartroli (1917-1944), French Resistance, Croix de Guerre
Louis Jourdan (born 1919), actor
Jean Pierre Rampal (1922-2000), flutist
Jean-Claude Izzo (1945-2000), author
Zinedine Zidane (born 1972), soccer player
Clara Morgane (born 1981), porn star
French poet Arthur Rimbaud died in Marseille in November 10, 1891.

Movies set in Marseille
37°2 le matin (1986)
À bout de souffle (1960)
Baise-moi (2000)
Comme un aimant (2000)
The French Connection (1971) and its sequel (1975)
Gomez & Tavarès (2003)
La Lune dans le caniveau (1983)
Marius (1931)
Marius et Jeannette (1997)
Pépé le Moko (1937)
Roselyne et les lions (1989)
Taxi (1998)
Taxi 2 (2000)
Taxi 3 (2003)
Trois places pour le 26 (1988)
Un, deux, trois, soleil (1993)

Posted by airwolf09 12:11 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Suez, As Suways


Suez (Arabic: السويس ) is a port town (population ca. 460,000) in Egypt, located on the Gulf of Suez, near the mouth of the Suez Canal. The town was utterly destroyed and deserted following the Second Arab-Israeli War in 1967. It was rebuilt after the reopening of the canal in 1975.

Posted by airwolf09 12:21 Archived in Egypt Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Haifa, Haifa


Haifa (Hebrew חֵיפָה Ḥefa, Ḥeyfa; Arabic حَيْفَا Ḥayfā (♫)) is the third-largest city in Israel, with a population close to 300,000. Areas and towns around it are deemed to be in the Haifa District, of which it is also a part. It is a seaport, located below and on Mount Carmel, and lies on the Mediterranean coast.

The city's sole official romanization Haifa and the common English pronunciation /ˈhaɪ.fə/ are based on the Arabic name Ḥayfā, whilst the unused Standard Hebrew name is Ḥefa, and the local Hebrew pronunciation is typically /χei.'fa/.

The name Haifa is derived from the Levantine Arabic word الحيفة al-Ḥayfah meaning 'nearby', derived from the Crusaders name for Haifa -- Cayphas (they also used the name Sycaminon which means Wild Strawberry). Under Roman rule it was known by Efa. During the Islamic period, Acre dominated the coastal area, and Haifa was a minor port[1]. Haifa is first mentioned in written records around 3rd century CE, as a small town near Shikmona, the main town in the area at that time. It had been under Byzantine rule until the 7th century, when it was conquered first by the Persians, then by the Arabs. In 1100, it was conquered again by the crusaders, after a fierce battle with its Jewish inhabitants. It then became part of the Principality of Galilee. The town was taken again by the Muslim Mameluks in 1265, and was ruined and mostly abandoned until the 17th century.

In 1761 Daher El-Omar, Bedouin ruler of Acre and Galilee, destroyed and rebuilt the town in a new location, surrounding it with a thin wall. This event is marked by many as the beginning of the town's modern era. After El-Omar's death in 1775, the town remained mostly under Ottoman rule until 1918, except for two brief periods: in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Haifa as part of his brief and failed campaign to conquer Palestine and Syria, but withdrew the same year; and between 1831 and 1840, the town had been under the rule of the Egyptian viceroy Mehemet Ali, after having been conquered by his son Ibrahim Pasha. In the years following the Egyptian occupation, the town saw rise in traffic, population and importance, while Acre was declining due to the damages it suffered in a succession of battles and wars. The town saw another surge of development with the arrival of members of the Temple Society in 1868, who settled in Haifa and built their sturdy houses in the town's "German colony". The Templars greatly contributed to the town's commerce and industry, and played an important role in its stride towards modernization.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Haifa had emerged as an industrial port city and growing population center. At that time Haifa district was home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants, comprised of 82% Muslim Arab, 14% Christian Arabs, and 4% Jewish residents. Jewish population increased steadily with immigration primarily from Europe, so that by 1945 the population had shifted to 38% Muslim, 13% Christian and 47% Jewish. Haifa is located in the northernmost reach of the Coastal Plain designated as Jewish territory in the 1947 UN Partition Plan dividing mandatory Palestine. As the major industrial and oil-refinary port in the British mandate of Palestine, Jewish forces deemed control of Haifa a critical objective in the ensuing 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was captured on April 23rd, 1948 by a force of 5,000 Israeli soldiers led by the Carmeli Brigade whose attack was met by a defending force of 350-500[2]. The campaign resulted in Israeli control over the area and the flight of about 60,000 Palestinian Arabs from Haifa District.

Today, Haifa is a thriving and diverse cultural and ethnic center, home to Jews, Arabs, Ahmedis, Bahá'í and Druze, and marked for its relatively high level of peaceful coexistence.

Noted by Jews for the Cave of Elijah and the historic Jewish town of Shikmona at the foot of Mount Carmel, Haifa is also cherished by the Muslim, Christian and Bahá'í faiths. The Bahá'í World Center (comprising the Shrine of the Báb, terraced gardens and administrative buildings on the Carmel's northern slope [see photo]) is an important site of worship and administration for the members of the Bahá'í Faith, as well as providing the city with a much visited tourist attraction. Haifa is a mosaic of relatively peaceful yet visibily segregated coexistence between Jews, Muslim and Christian Arabs, Ahmedis (Kababir), Druze, Bahá'ís, and others.

Noted also for being a favourite monastic spot for the Carmelites in the 12th century, with a 19th century rebuilt monastry Stella Maris at the Carmel's head, a popular tourist and pilgrim's attraction.

The city has seven football clubs - Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Haifa, Beitar Haifa, Akhva Haifa, Neve Yosef, Bnei Kababir and Neve Shaanan. Maccabi Haifa is one of the most successful football clubs today in Israel, with 9 championships, 5 cups and 2 Toto-cups (as for 2005). Both clubs have football schools in Haifa suburbs and other villages (including Arab and Druze villages) in the northern part of Israel. Haifa also has basketball, volleyball, tennis, and handball clubs.

Posted by airwolf09 12:33 Archived in Israel Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Jerusalem, Jerusalem


Jerusalem (31°46′ N 35°14′ E; Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (♫); Yerushalayim; Arabic: القُدس (♫) al-Quds; see also names of Jerusalem) is an ancient Middle Eastern city of key importance to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The State of Israel has its capital at Jerusalem, although its right to do so is disputed.

With a population of 704,900 (as of December 31, 2004 [1]), it is a richly heterogeneous city, representing a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups. The section called the "Old City" is surrounded by walls and consists of four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim.

The status of the city is hotly disputed. The 1949 cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan, also known as the Green Line, cuts through the city. Since its victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has controlled the entire city and claims sovereignty over it. According to a Basic Law of Israel enacted in 1980 (the Jerusalem Law) Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and is the center of Jerusalem District; it serves as the country's seat of government and otherwise functions as a capital. The UN Security Council Resolution 478 condemned the Jerusalem Law as "a violation of international law".

In 2000 the Palestinian Authority passed a law designating Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state; in 2002 this law was ratified.

The origin of the name of the city is uncertain. It is possible to understand the name (Hebrew Yerushalayim) as either "Heritage of Salem" or "Heritage of Peace" - a contraction of "heritage" (yerusha) and Salem (Shalem literally "whole" or "in harmony") or "peace" (shalom). (See the Biblical commentator the Ramban for explanation.) "Shalem" is the original name used in Genesis 14:18 for the city. Similarly the Amarna Letters call the city Uru Salim in Akkadian, a cognate of the Hebrew Ir Shalem ("city of Salem"). Some consider a connection between the name and Shalim -- the deity personifying dusk known from Ugaritic myths and offering lists. The ending -ayim or -im has the appearance of the Hebrew dual or plural suffix respectively. It has been argued that it is a dual form representing the fact that the city lies on two hills however the treatment of the ending as a suffix makes the rest of the name incomprehensible in Hebrew. A Midrashic interpretation comes from Genesis Rabba, which explains that Abraham came to "Shalem" after rescuing Lot. Upon arrival, he asked the king and high priest Melkhizedek to bless him, and Melkhizedek did so in the name of the Supreme God (indicating that he, like Abraham, was a monotheist). According to exegetes, God immortalizes this encounter between Melkhizedek and Abraham by renaming the city in honor of them: the name "Yeru" (derived from "Yireh", the name Abraham gives to Mount Moriah after unbinding Isaac, and explained in Genesis as meaning that God will be revealed there) is placed in front of "Shalem". The plural ending implies the community of all believers in the One God who testify to the city's holiness.

Antiquity (prehistory - 6 CE)

This city has known many wars, and various periods of occupation. According to one Jewish tradition, it was founded by Abraham's forefathers Shem and Eber. According to Genesis 14:18, "Salem" was ruled by Melchizedek, a priest of God -- in some traditions, identical with Shem. Later it was controlled by the Jebusites. After this it came under Israelite control. The Bible records that King David defeated the Jebusites in war and captured the city without destroying it. David then expanded the city to the south, and declared it the capital city of the united Kingdom of Israel.

Later, according to the Bible, the First Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. The Temple became a major cultural center in the region, eventually overcoming other ritual centers such as Shilo and Bethel. Near the end of the reign of King Solomon, the northern ten tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria. Jerusalem then became the capital of the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah.

By the end of the "First Temple Period," Jerusalem was the sole acting religious shrine in the kingdom and a center of regular pilgrimage. Although recent archaeological finds may push the date yet earlier (see Tel Dan Stele), clear historical records begin to corroborate some of the Biblical history from around the 9th century BCE, the kings of Judah become historically identifiable, and the significance the Temple had in Jewish religious life is clear.

Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judah for some 400 years. It had survived (or, as some historians claim, averted) an Assyrian siege in 701 BCE by Sennacherib -- unlike Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, that had fallen some twenty years previously. However, the city was overcome by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, who then took the young king Jehoiachin into Babylonian captivity, together with most of the aristocracy. The country rebelled again under Zedekiah, prompting the city's repeated conquest and destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. The temple was burnt, and the city's walls were ruined, thus rendering what remained of the city unprotected.

After several decades of captivity and the Persian conquest of Babylonia, Cyrus II of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the city's walls and the Temple. It continued to be the capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship, as a province under the Persians, Greek and Romans, with a relatively short period of independence under the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Temple complex was upgraded and the Temple itself rebuilt under Herod the Great, a Jewish client-king under Roman rule, around 19 BCE. That structure is known as the Second Temple, and was the most important of the many improvements Herod made to the city. After Herod's death, the province and city came under direct Roman rule in 6 CE.

Roman rule (6 CE - 638)

After a brief period of Roman rule, the city was ruined when a civil war, accompanied by the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome in Judea, led to the city's sack yet again, at the hands of Titus in 70 CE. The Second Temple was burnt and all that remained was a portion of an external (retaining) wall that became known as the Western Wall.

After the end of this first revolt, Jews continued to live in Jerusalem in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion. In the second century, the Roman Emperor Hadrian began to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city while restricting some Jewish practices. Angry at this affront, the Judeans again revolted, led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Hadrian responded with overwhelming force, putting down the revolution, killing as many as a half million Jews, and resettling the city as a pagan polis under the name Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to enter the city but for a single day of the year, Tisha B'Av, (the Ninth of Av, see Hebrew calendar), when they could weep for the destruction of their city at the Temple's only remaining wall.

For the next 150 years, the city remained a relatively unimportant Roman town. The Byzantine Emperor Constantine, however, rebuilt Jerusalem as a Christian center of worship, building the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335. Jews were still banned from the city, except during a brief period of Persian rule from 614-629.

Arab Caliphates, Christian Crusaders, and early Ottoman rule (638-1800s)

Although the Qur'an does not mention the name "Jerusalem", the hadith specify that it was from Jerusalem that Muhammad ascended to heaven in the Night Journey, or Isra and Miraj. The city was one of the Arab Caliphate's first conquests in 638 CE; according to Arab historians of the time, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab personally went to the city to receive its submission, cleaning out and praying at the Temple Mount in the process. Some Muslim and non-Muslim sources add that he built a mosque there. Sixty years later, the Dome of the Rock was built, a structure in which there lies the stone where Muhammad is said to have tethered his mount Buraq during the Isra. This is also reputed to be the place where Abraham went to sacrifice his son (Isaac in the Jewish tradition, Ishmael in the Muslim one.) Note that the octagonal and gold-sheeted Dome is not the same thing as the Al-Aqsa Mosque beside it, which was built more than three centuries later. Umar ibn al-Khattab also allowed the Jews entry into the city and full freedom to live and worship after 400 hundred years. Jews were allowed to move back into their homes.

Under the early centuries of Muslim rule, especially during the Umayyad (650-750) and Abbasid (750-969) dynasties, the city prospered; the geographers Ibn Hawqal and al-Istakhri (10th century) describe it as "the most fertile province of Palestine", while its native son the geographer al-Muqaddasi (born 946) devoted many pages to its praises in his most famous work, The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Climes.

The early Arab period was also one of religious tolerance. However, in the early 11th century, the Egyptian Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Jerusalem, a policy reversed by his successors. Reports of this were one cause of the First Crusade, which marched off from Europe to the area, and, on July 15, 1099, Christian soldiers took Jerusalem after a difficult one month siege. They then proceeded to slaughter most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. Raymond d'Aguiliers, chaplain to Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote:

Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious ceremonies were ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood. (Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other source materials, p. 214)
Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a feudal state, of which the King of Jerusalem was the chief. The Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted until 1291; however, Jerusalem itself was recaptured by Saladin in 1187, who permitted worship of all religions (see Siege of Jerusalem (1187).

In 1173 Benjamin of Tudela visited Jerusalem. He described it as a small city full of Jacobites, Armenians, Greeks, and Georgians. Two hundred Jews dwelt in a corner of the city under the Tower of David.

In 1219 the walls of the city were taken down by order of the Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls; but they were again demolished by Da'ud, the emir of Kerak.

In 1243 Jerusalem came again into the power of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244; and they in turn were driven out by the Egyptians in 1247. In 1260 the Tatars under Hulaku Khan overran the whole land, and the Jews that were in Jerusalem had to flee to the neighboring villages.

In 1244, Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the city walls, rendering it again defenseless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status. In the middle of the 13th century, Jerusalem was captured by the Egyptian Mameluks. In 1517, it was taken over by the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed a period of renewal and peace under Suleiman the Magnificent - including the rebuilding of magnificent walls of what is now known as the Old City (however, some of the wall foundations are remains of genuine antique walls). The rule of Suleiman and the following Ottoman Sultans brought an age of "religious peace"; Jew, Christian and Muslim enjoyed the freedom of religion the Ottomans granted them and it was possible to find a synagogue, a church and a mosque in the same street. The city remained open to all religions, although the empire's faulty management after Suleiman meant slow economical stagnation.

In 1482, the visiting Dominican priest Felix Fabri described Jerusalem as a dwelling place of diverse nations of the world, and is, as it were, a collection of all manner of abominations. As abominations he listed Saracens, Greeks, Syrians, Jacobites, Abyssianians, Nestorians, Armenians, Gregorians, Maronites, Turcomans, Bedouins, Assassins, a sect possibly Druze, Mamelukes, and the most accursed of all, Jews. Only the Latin Christians long with all their hearts for Christian princes to come and subject all the country to the authority of the Church of Rome. (A. Stewart, Palestine Pilgrims Text Society, Vol 9-10, p. 384-391)

Revival of Jerusalem (1800s-1917)

The modern history of Jerusalem began in the mid-nineteenth century, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the city was a backwater, with a population that did not exceed 8,000. Nevertheless, it was, even then, an extremely heterogeneous city because of its significance to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The population was divided into four major communities--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian--and the first three of these could be further divided into countless subgroups, based on precise religious affiliation or country of origin. An example of this would be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was meticulously partitioned between the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian churches. Tensions between the groups ran so deep that the keys to the shrine were kept with a 'neutral' Muslim family for safekeeping.

At that time, the communities were located mainly around their primary shrines. The Muslim community surrounded the Haram ash-Sharif or Temple Mount (northeast), the Christians lived mainly in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (northwest), the Jews lived mostly on the slope above the Western Wall (southeast), and the Armenians lived near the Zion Gate (southwest). In no way was this division exclusive, however, it did form the basis of the four quarters during the British Mandate period (1917-1948).

Several changes occurred in the mid-nineteenth century, which had long-lasting effects on the city: their implications can be felt today and lie at the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over Jerusalem. The first of these was a trickle of Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and Eastern Europe which shifted the balance of population so that Jews formed the largest religious group in the city by the 1844 census. The first such immigrants were Orthodox Jews: some were elderly individuals, who came to die in Jerusalem and be buried on the Mount of Olives; others were students, who came with their families to await the coming of the Messiah, and adding new life to the local population. At the same time, European colonial powers also began seeking toeholds in the city, hoping to expand their influence pending the imminent collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This was also an age of Christian religious revival, and many churches sent missionaries to proselytize among the Muslim and especially the Jewish populations, believing that this would speed the Second Coming of Christ. Finally, the combination of European colonialism and religious zeal was expressed in a new scientific interest in the biblical lands in general and Jerusalem in particular. Archeological and other expeditions made some spectacular finds, which increased interest in Jerusalem even more.

By the 1860s, the city, with an area of only 1 square kilometer, was already overcrowded. Thus began the construction of the New City, the part of Jerusalem outside of the city walls. Seeking new areas to stake their claims, the Russian Orthodox Church began constructing a complex, now known as the Russian Compound, a few hundred meters from Jaffa Gate. The first attempt at residential settlement outside the walls of Jerusalem was begun by Jews, who built a small complex on the hill overlooking Zion Gate, across the Valley of Hinnom. This settlement, known as Mishkenot Sha’ananim, eventually flourished and set the precedent for other new communities to spring up to the west and north of the Old City. In time, as the communities grew and connected geographically, this became known as the New City.

British Mandate (1917-1948)

The British were victorious over the Turks in the Middle East and with victory in Palestine, General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Jerusalem on foot, out of respect for the Holy City, on December 11th, 1917.

By the time General Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottomans in 1917, the new city was a patchwork of neighborhoods and communities, each with a distinct ethnic character. This continued under British rule, as the New City of Jerusalem grew outside the old city walls and the Old City of Jerusalem gradually emerged as little more than an impoverished older neighborhood. One of the British bequests to the city was a town planning order requiring new buildings in the city to be faced with sandstone and thus preserving some of the overall look of the city, even as it grew. During the 1930s, two important new institutions, the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University were founded in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus.

British rule marked a period of growing unrest. Arab resentment at British rule and the influx of Jewish immigrants (by 1948 1 in 6 Jews in Palestine lived in Jerusalem) boiled over in anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem in 1920, 1929, and the 1930s that caused significant damage and several deaths. The Jewish community organized self-defense forces in response to the Jerusalem pogrom of April, 1920 and later disturbances; while other Jewish groups carried out bombings and attacks against the British, especially in response to suspected complicity with the Arabs and restrictions on immigration during World War II imposed by the White Paper of 1939. The level of violence continued to escalate throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan which partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. Each state would be composed of three major sections, linked by extraterritorial crossroads, plus an Arab enclave at Jaffa. The Greater Jerusalem area would fall under international control. After partition, the fight for Jerusalem escalated, with heavy casualties among both fighters and civilians on the British, Jewish, and Arab sides. By the end of March, 1948, just before the British withdrawal, and with the British increasingly reluctant to intervene, the roads to Jerusalem were cut off by Arab irregulars, placing the Jewish population of the city under siege. The siege was eventually broken, though massacres of civilians occurred on both sides, before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War began with the end of the British Mandate in May of 1948.

Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict (1948-)

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem was divided. The Western half of the New City became part of the new state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. Jordan did not allow Jewish access to the Western Wall (also known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall) and Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest sites, in the Old City, though it had agreed to under the cease fire agreement.

The United Nations proposed, in its 1947 plan for the partition of Palestine, for Jerusalem to be a city under international administration. However, on January 23, 1950 the Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The city recovered from the Arab seige of 1948 and became the second largest city in the country, after Tel Aviv. Growth was limited in that the city was surrounded on three sides by hostile Arabs, and the major highway linking the city to the rest of the country fell into Arab hands in 1948 and a smaller, newly built roadway was now the only way to reach the city.

East Jerusalem was captured by Israel Defense Force following the Six Day War in 1967. Most Jews celebrated the event as a liberation of the city; a new Israeli holiday was created, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), and the most popular secular Hebrew song, "Jerusalem of Gold" (Yerushalayim shel zahav), became popular in celebration. Following this the medieval Moroccan Quarter was demolished, and a huge public plaza was built in its place adjoining the Western Wall, to accommodate the influx of Jewish worshippers to their holy site.

Many large state gatherings of the State of Israel take place there now, including the official swearing-in of different Israel army officers units, national ceremonies such as memorial services for fallen Israeli soldiers on Yom Hazikaron, huge celebrations on Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut), huge gatherings of tens of thousands on Jewish religious holidays, and ongoing daily prayers by regular attendees. It is also a major high-point for tourists visiting Jerusalem.

Under Israeli control, members of most religions are largely granted access to their holy sites. The major exceptions being the limitations placed on Palestinian Muslims and Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from accessing holy sites due to their inadmissibility to Jerusalem, as well as limitations on Jews from visiting the Temple Mount due to both politically-motivated restrictions (where they are allowed to walk on the Mount in small groups, but are forbidden to pray or study while there) and religious edicts that forbid Jews from trespassing on what may be the site of the Holy of the Holies. Concerns have been raised about attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the last of which was a serious fire in 1969 (arson by an Australian tourist), and tunnels opened near the Mount, discovered in 1981, 1988 and 1996. The status of East Jerusalem remains a highly controversial issue.

In 1980, the Israeli Knesset confirmed Jerusalem's status as the nation's "eternal and indivisible capital", by passing the Basic Law: Jerusalem — Capital of Israel.

All the branches of Israeli government (Presidential, Legislative, Judicial, and Administrative) are seated in Jerusalem. The Knesset building is well known in Jerusalem.

As of 2004, only two states, Costa Rica and El Salvador, have their embassies in Jerusalem (since 1984). Other foreign consulaltes such as Consulate General of Greece as well as those of the United Kingdom and the United States are based there and primarily serve the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Consul-Generals of those countries do not submit their letters of credintials to the Israeli President or foreign ministry, but to the administrative governor of the city. Additionally, Bolivia and Paraguay have their embassies in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem. The Netherlands hold an office in Jerusalem that serves almost exclusively Israelis.

Palestinian aspirations
Palestinian groups claim either all of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) or East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

UN position
The position of the United Nations on the question of Jerusalem is contained in General Assembly resolution 181(11) and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council concerning this question.

The UN Security Council, in UN Resolution 478, declared that the 1980 Jerusalem Law declaring Jerusalem as Israel's "eternal and indivisible" capital was "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith" (14-0-1, with United States abstaining). The resolution instructed member states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city as a punitive measure.

Before this resolution, thirteen countries maintained their embassies in Jerusalem: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela. Following the UN resolution, all thirteen moved their embassies to Tel Aviv. Costa Rica and El Salvador moved theirs back to Jerusalem in 1984.

United States position
The United States Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by Congress in 1995, states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999". Since then, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv is being suspended by the President semi-annually, each time stating that "[the] Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem". As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003 states:

"The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President [...] to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem". [3]
However, President Bush has argued that this section is merely "advisory", stating that it "impermissibly interferes with the President's constitutional authority". [4] The U.S. Constitution reserves the conduct of foreign policy to the President and acts of Congress which make foreign policy are arguably invalid for that reason. The U.S. Congress, however, has the "power of the purse," and could prohibit the president from expending any funds on any embassy that is located outside Jerusalem. It has not done so.

United Kingdom position
UK government statement

"In line with the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993 and the Interim Agreement of 28 September 1995, both agreed by Israel and the PLO, the Government regards the status of Jerusalem as still to be determined in permanent status negotiations between the parties. Pending agreement, we recognise de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem but consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. We recognise no sovereignty over the city."
"Jerusalem has a unique religious and cultural importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and we attach great importance to ensuring access to Jerusalem and freedom of worship there for those of all faiths."
It should be noted that whilst the United Kingdom maintains a Consulate-General in Jerusalem, this is not accredited to Israel. It administers the UK's relations with the Palestinian Authority and looks after the interests of British citizens in the occupied territories and Jerusalem. Israelis and British citizens in Israel proper must deal with the UK's embassy in Tel Aviv.

Arguments for and against internationalization
The proposal that Jerusalem should be a city under international administration is still made at times by Christians, whose population in the city is rather smaller than the Muslim and Jewish populations. (Internationalization is the solution favored by the Holy See.) However, most negotiations regarding the future status of Jerusalem have been based on partition; for example, one scheme would have Israel keep the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall (the "Wailing Wall"), with the rest of the Old City and the Temple Mount being transferred to a new Palestinian state. Some Israelis are opposed to any division of Jerusalem, based on cultural, historic, and religious grounds. Others believe that areas such as the Old City which are sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam should be under international or multilateral control. Palestinians have argued for an open city, though its feasibility has been challenged given the existence of mutual distrust.

Religious significance

Jerusalem plays an important role in three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Posted by airwolf09 13:25 Archived in Israel Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Bethlehem, West Bank


Bethlehem (Arabic بيت لحم Bayt Laḥm (♫) "house of meat"; Standard Hebrew בית לחם "house of bread", Bet léḥem / Bet láḥem; Tiberian Hebrew Bêṯ léḥem / Bêṯ lāḥem) is a city on the West Bank and a hub of Palestinian cultural and tourism industries.

The city has great significance to the Christian religion as it is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The traditional site of Rachel's tomb, which is important in Judaism, lies at the city's outskirts. Bethlehem is also home to one of largest Palestinian Christian communities in the Middle East. It lies about 10 km (6 mi) south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 765 m (2 510 ft) above the sea, thus 30 m (100 ft) higher than Jerusalem. The Bethlehem agglomeration also covers the small towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, the latter also having biblical significance.

The Church of the Nativity, built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330), stands in the centre of Bethlehem over a grotto or cave called the Holy Crypt, which according to Christian tradition is the place where Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest existing Christian church in the world. Close to it is another grotto, where Jerome the Latin father is said to have spent thirty years of his life in translating the Scriptures into Latin. (See Vulgate).

Bethlehem UniversityBethlehem is home to Bethlehem University [1], a major Roman Catholic institution which was founded under the direction of the Vatican.

The city, located in the "hill country" of Judah, was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town. Here was David's birth-place, and here also, in after years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:4-13); and it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in the cave of Adullam (2 Sam. 23:13-17). But it was distinguished above every other city as the birth-place of "Him whose goings forth have been of old" (Matt. 2:6; comp. Micah 5:2). Afterwards Herod, "when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men," sent and slew "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matt. 2:16, 18; Jer. 31:15). Some researchers believe that these New Testament references actually relate to Bethlehem in the Galilee, and not to this town.

Roman and Byzantine periods

Interior of the Church of the NativityThe city was wrecked during Bar Kokhba's revolt (132-135 AD) and the Romans set up a shrine to Adonis on the site of the Nativity. Only in 326 was the first Christian church constructed, when Helena, the mother of the first Christian emperor, Constantine, visited Bethlehem.

During the Samaritan revolt of 529, Bethlehem was sacked and its walls and the Church of the Nativity destroyed, but they were soon rebuilt on the orders of the Emperor Justinian. In 614, the Persians invaded Palestine and captured Bethlehem. A story recounted in later sources holds that they refrained from destroying the Church of the Nativity on seeing the magi depicted in Persian clothing in one of the mosaics.

Arab rule and the Crusades
In 637, shortly after Jerusalem was captured by the Muslim armies, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab visited Bethlehem and promised that the Church of the Nativity would be preserved for Christian use.

In 1099, Bethlehem was captured by the Crusaders, who fortified it and built a new monastery and cloister on the north side of the Church of the Nativity. The town prospered under their rule. On Christmas Day 1100 Baldwin I, first king of the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem, was crowned in Bethlehem, and that year a Latin episcopate was also established in the town.

In 1187, Saladin captured Bethlehem from the Crusaders, and the Latin clerics were forced to leave. Saladin agreed to the return of two Latin priests and two deacons in 1192. However, the town suffered from the loss of the pilgrim trade. Bethlehem was briefly returned to Crusader control by treaty between 1229 and 1244. In 1250, with the coming to power of Rukn al-Din Baibars, tolerance of Christianity declined, clergy left the town, and in 1263 the walls of the town were demolished. The Latin clergy returned to the town over the following century, establishing themselves in the monastery adjoining the Basilica, and in 1347 the Franciscans gained possession of the Grotto of the Nativity as well as the right to administer and maintain the Basilica.

Bethlehem under the Ottoman Empire
During the years of Ottoman control from 1517 on, custody of the Basilica was bitterly disputed between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

From 1831 to 1841 Palestine was under the rule of Muhammad Ali of Egypt. During this period the town suffered an earthquake as well as the destruction of the Muslim quarter by troops, apparently as a reprisal for a murder. In 1841, Bethlehem came under Ottoman rule once more, and so it remained until the end of the First World War and the imposition of the British Mandate on Palestine.

20th Century
In the 1947 resolution by the United Nations General Assembly to partition Palestine, Bethlehem was included in the special international enclave of Jerusalem to be administered by the United Nations. Jordan occupied the city during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Many refugees from areas captured by Zionist forces in 1947 - 1948 came to Bethlehem, setting up encampments in the north of the city near the road to Jerusalem and on the hillside to the south between the city and Solomon's Pools. These later became the official refugee camps of Beit Jibrin (or al-'Azza) and 'A'ida (in the north) and Deheisheh in the south. This influx of refugees changed the demography of Bethlehem considerably.

Jordan retained control of the city until 1967, when Bethlehem was captured by Israel along with the rest of the West Bank.

On December 21, 1995, Bethlehem became one of the areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. It is capital of the Bethlehem district. The current population of the town is about 40,000. The Christian population is no longer the majority, but a special statute requires that the mayor and a majority of the municipal council must nevertheless be Christian.

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Postojna, Postojna


Postojna (also known as Adelsberg or Slovene Postojina) is a town and a municipality in the province of Carniola, 22 miles from Trieste, in southwestern Slovenia. Population 14,581 (2002).

Between 1918 and 1945 Postojna was also known by its Italian name Postumia.

Near the town is a major tourist attraction: the 20-km long cave system called Postojnska jama. The cave was first described in the 17th century by Janez Vajkard Valvasor, and a new area of the cave was discovered in 1818 by Luka Cec. Electric lighting was added in 1872, enhancing the cave system's popularity.

Species unique to the cave include Proteus anguinus, the so-called human fish (because of the color of its skin); Leptodirus hohenwarti, a beetle; and a species of blind salamander.

Posted by airwolf09 12:50 Archived in Slovenia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Ljubljana, Ljubljana


Ljubljana (IPA /ljub'ljʌna/), German Laibach (/'lɑɪbax/), Italian Lubiana (/lʊb'jɑ:na/) is the capital of Slovenia, situated on the outfall of the river Ljubljanica into the Sava, in central Slovenia, between the Alps and the Mediterranean. Population: 265,881 (2002).

It is located at 46.03°N, 14.30°E at an altitude of 298 meters above sea level. The temperature varies between 3.4 °C (38.1 °F) in January and 21.9 °C (71.4 °F) in July. Annual rainfall is 1350 mm (53.2 inches).

Historians disagree as to where the name comes from. Although it is commonly pointed out that it originates out of the Slovenian word ljubljena (a feminine form of beloved), this is not known for certain. The name may just as well have evolved from the Latin term for a flooding river, aluviana. Some also believe the source of the present-day name is Laburus, an old Slavonic deity and supposed patron of the original settlement. And Laibach, the German name for the city, may have borrowed itself from Laubach (a lukewarm beck, in German).

Although the Roman settlement Emona (Colonia Emona (Aemona) Iulia tribu Claudia) was erected in 15 AD, the first records mentioning Ljubljana by its modern name date to 1144 (by its German name Laibach) and 1146 (by name Luwigana).

After receiving its town rights in 1220, Ljubljana came under Habsburg rule in 1335, became the seat of the diocese in 1461, and developed into a Slovenian cultural centre during the late Middle Ages. The Habsburg rule was only interrupted by the Napoleonic wars, and between 1809 and 1813 Ljubljana was the capital of the French Illyrian provinces. In 1821 the city hosted the Congress of Laibach. While under Austrian rule, Ljubljana was the capital of Carniola.

With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Ljubljana became the seat of the Dravska banovina. In April 1941 it was occupied by Italy and on February 23, 1942 Italians completely encircled it with 32 km of barbwire and thus effectively turned it into the largest war camp in Europe with very restricted access through checkpoints. For that Josip Broz Tito awarded Ljubljana in 1955 with the Hero City title. Ljubljana was the first Yugoslav city to obtain this title.

After World War II it was the capital of the Yugoslav socialist republic of Slovenia. Ljubljana remained the capital city when Slovenia gained independence in 1991 after a ten day war with the federal army of Yugoslavia.

Ljubljana was devastated by earthquakes several times. After the earthquake in 1511, Ljubljana was rebuilt in the Renaissance style, and after the earthquake 1895 severely damaged the city, in Neo-Classicist and Secession (Art Nouveau) styles. One of the main features of the city, the pre-historic castle, is under going renovation. The city's architecture is thus a mixture of styles. Large areas of city built between the two world wars feature the work of native architect Jože Plečnik who added pedestrian bridges either side.

Ljubljana has the National Art gallery showing great old Slovenia artists and the Modern Art Gallery which focuses on use of newer mediums and interactive art. There is also a large counter-culter center in Metelkova, a former ex-Yugoslav military complex, where the walls are covered with Graffiti.

Posted by airwolf09 12:53 Archived in Slovenia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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