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4.4 out of 5 stars
82
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 26 February 2017
Simon Sebag Montefiore takes us on an enthralling and rather complicated journey through the troubled and ever-changing history of one the world's most respected and complex cities. So entangled is the history, that a viewer may need a pen and paper to take notes as the history is unfolding. Divided into three episodes, historian Montefiore uses his considerable knowledge and pedigree in Middle Eastern affairs to provide an overview of key moments in Jerusalem's history.

Montefiore visits and examines key religious sites, including the Western Wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple. Also the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre - the site of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, the Al-Aqsa mosque as the third holiest sanctuary of Islam. He conducts interesting interviews with a wide range of different people connected with the city, both locals and foreigners.

Episode one "Wellspring of Holiness" explores how this incredible city came into being, explaining how it became so important to the three Abrahamic faiths. Montefiore chronologically documents the emergence of Jerusalem as a Jewish city under King David. He looks for remaining evidence of the construction of the first temple by Solomon through to the life, death and impact of Jesus and the eventual expulsion of the Jews by the ruling Romans.

Episode Two "Invasion, Invasion, Invasion" demonstrates how Islamic control affected Jerusalem. The construction of one of Islam's holiest shrines - the Dome of the Rock - and the crusaders' attempts to win it back for Christianity is detailed. And, the titanic match-up between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart is described. Throughout, Montefiore reveals that each conquering religious regime in Jerusalem adopted religious elements from previous regimes, and usually adapted the existing buildings and places of worship for their new role.

The final episode "Judgement Day" explores how Jerusalem rose from a desolate ruin after the crusades to be rebuilt as a focus for Islamic worship mainly under Turkish Ottoman rule. The rivalry and conflict between European nations battling for influence and control of the city is described, and the somewhat hollow promises of the British in the early part of the twentieth century creating many of the current day problems in the Middle East. And, the emergence of Jerusalem as the centre of Zionism and the nation of Israel is clearly documented.

Overall, Montefiore has produced an effective history of many of the key moments in the history of this iconic city. In truth, he could have used one or two more episodes to go into more detail, especially relating to the times of Jesus and later the period of Turkish Ottoman rule.
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on 9 March 2013
This DVD covers Jerusalem from stone-age times to the present. I shows the conflict and conquest enduring to the present day - rarely, at peace.
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on 24 April 2017
Cant get enough of this kind of presentation.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2014
While I think this is a wonderful introduction to Jerusalem and its history - with some excellent background information - I think three hours is quite long. Inevitably, because it was shown over three weeks, there is a fair amount of overlap and a bit of repetition each time the programme starts up and there is really rather a lot of footage of Simon S.M. wandering about. I have read his book on the same subject which is totally brilliant so if you are really interested in the subject, read the book as well, or even instead of, the DVD.
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on 8 April 2013
This DVD gave an interesting and informative overview of the development of the three Abrahamist religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I had no idea why the city was so important to all three. Seems a variation on a theme, really!
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on 17 January 2015
I had watched Simon Sebag Montifiore's 3 part series on Rome and his 3 part series on Constantinople. Both were insightful, beautifully presented and educational, managing to hold your attention throughout. When I saw Jerusalem on sale, I immediately purchased it and watched it without delay. It simply is a fantastic use of 3 hours, watching this documentary on the holy city. The city has such a long, rich history which is covered in great detail. Simon Sebag Montifiore is not intrusive in any way as some historians can be when making documentaries. His passion for providing us with the history of the city is what makes this probably the best documentary on Jerusalem there is.
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on 28 February 2014
Not quite what I expected, but, more informative than the news!
If you are looking for ancient Jerusalem, there is not a lot of it here.
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This three-part BBC series is an informative and revealing documentary. It tackles a very delicate subject; the most revered city on earth, holy to the three major Abrahamic faiths. Wars have been fought over Jerusalem for centuries, and this series helps to explain why - and how the current situation in Israel developed. I've heard of the term `Zionism' for all of my life, but never really understood what it meant to the different groups involved, until now.

The presenter, Simon Sebag Montefiore, isn't just a journalist, author and historian. His family are descended from a group of Sephardic Jews, who had links to influential financiers like the Rothschilds. Brought up in Britain, SSB has spent a considerable amount of time with relatives in Jerusalem and brings first-hand experiences and insight to his explanation of its history. He explains some of this during the programmes so there's no question of questioning his standpoint and - from his extremely even-handed approach to all parties - I felt that his interpretations weren't unduly biased towards any particular faith. He came over as trustworthy, especially in his careful consideration about what might be mythological, and what is reasonably certain historical fact.
Over three hours, the series follows the linear development of Jerusalem from its earliest days as a small settlement, through the construction of the temple by Solomon, the life of Christ and the importance of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Roman period and then the change to life under Muslim caliphs and the building of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Of course the Crusades are covered, but the series also reveals less well-known historical episodes - such as the demolition of the city walls by the inhabitants which left it undefended, Queen Melisende's embellishment of crusader Jerusalem, the encounter between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, and an early power-sharing arrangement brokered in the 13th century.
The final episode considers recent history. It highlights that, since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, the conflict in Jerusalem has been influenced by broader global concerns. When the world was at war, the Allies were quite capable of offering Jerusalem to both Jews and Palestinians at the same time, providing they would help with local battles. It also explains how complicated the current situation is, and makes clear the nature of the over-lapping territorial claims, all rife with religious significance.

However, the whole series isn't about politics - and SSB takes pains to demonstrate some of the astonishing architecture and beautiful buildings which make the city unique. The filming captures the contrasts of modern Jerusalem; a congested ancient city filled with modern people, some praying but many of them selling souvenirs; some in full religious garb but some with sub-machine guns slung over militia uniforms; some undoubtedly pious, but many westerners gawping a re-enactments of biblical ceremonies. So the programmes are never dull, although sometimes I struggled to see the beauty in the city.

8/10
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on 11 March 2017
great series
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on 31 March 2017
perfect!
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