The absence of vehicular traffic within most of the Old City helps preserve its special character.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish state occupied the Jordanian sector and shortly thereafter expanded the city boundaries—thereby annexing some areas of the West Bank previously held by the Jordanians—and extended its jurisdiction over the unified city. (For more information on the conflict between Israel and the Arabs, Jerusalem plays a central role in the spiritual and emotional perspective of the three major monotheistic religions.
Despite a rapidly changing demography, Jerusalem has retained a diverse and cosmopolitan character, particularly in the walled Old City with its Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim quarters: Arabs in traditional and modern attire; Christians, Western and Oriental, in their infinite variety of secular garb and monastic vestments; Jews in casual and Orthodox dress; and hosts of tourists combine in colourful, kaleidoscopic patterns.
Synagogues, churches, mosques, and dwellings in various styles make up the city’s unique architectural mosaic.
Long an object of veneration and conflict, the holy city of Jerusalem has been governed, both as a provincial town and a national capital, by an extended series of dynasties and states.
In the early 20th century the city, along with all of historic Palestine, became the focus of the competing national aspirations of Zionists and Palestinian Arabs. The United Nations (UN) attempted to declare the city a (Latin: “separate entity”)—and, thus, avert further conflict—but the first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, left Jerusalem divided into Israeli (west Jerusalem) and Jordanian (east Jerusalem) sectors.