Simon Sebag Montefiore begins a history of Jerusalem by exploring how it came into being and how it became so important to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. For the Jewish faith, it is the site of the Western Wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple. For Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the site of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest sanctuary of Islam.
In episode one, Simon delves into the past to explore how this unique city came into being, explaining how it became of such major importance to the three Abrahamic faiths, and how these faiths emerged from the Biblical tradition of the Israelites.
Starting with the Canaanites, Simon goes on a chronological journey to trace the rise of the city as a holy place and discusses the evidence for it becoming a Jewish city under King David. The programme explores the construction of the first temple by Solomon through to the life and death of Jesus Christ and the eventual expulsion of the Jews by the Romans, concluding in the 7th century AD, on the eve of the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslim caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab.