The Holy Land of Israel always evokes strong emotions for its unique intersection of history and faith, as well as the ways these intertwined elements influence artistic creations.


Approaching Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, pervasive walls and barriers on the West Bank are covered with anti-war murals by Banksy, such as Armored Dove, Flower Thrower and Girl Frisking Soldier. Getting closer to the old city, the walls seem to grow taller and more solemn while the trees grow greener and more lush.

Jerusalem is the holy land of three religions

Jerusalem is the Holy Land of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Following the hill slopes and the straight rows of olive and eucalyptus trees, visitors can get to the heart of the city, encircled by a high wall. It’s hard to imagine Jerusalem without these walls, which have witnessed the rises and falls of history since antiquity.

Traces of ancient art are preserved in multiple ways. In sanctuaries like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock, visitors can easily admire the intricate frescoes and ancient writings on the walls, which were created with a mixture of pigment, soot and carvings. Within the city, hundreds of intersecting alleys lead to public squares and the famous Wailing Wall.


The Holy Land has occupied an undeniably prominent position in the West’s artistic imagination. The Crusades and pilgrimages to Jerusalem have tapped into a wellspring of cultural and religious inspiration.

The inherent chaos and conflicts in the city also serve as creative waypoints for many artists. The Holy Land is recreated through the lens of many ideologies and its presence pervades Europe’s buildings and museums. One notable work on this subject is Jerusalem by the German sculptor-painter Anselm Kiefer. A large-scale mixed media piece, it exudes a heavenly quality through the inventive use of gold leaves. Kiefer also held an exhibition at New York’s Gagosian Gallery in 2010, entitled “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Another German artist, Gerhard Richter, has recreated Jerusalem in a painting as well, depicting the sunlit landscape of the city. The titles of these works demonstrate the artists’ deep attachment to memory. Their connection with Jerusalem perhaps lies in the city’s history, which is reimagined and recreated without a filter in their artworks.

Murals and graffiti on a West Bank wall


Art may not be the first thing that comes to mind for many visitors, but Jerusalem’s art scene remains vibrant and influential.

The city is home to the Israel Museum, the largest cultural center in Israel. The museum houses a comprehensive collection of biblical archaeology, rare manuscripts, Jewish ceremonial art, ethnographic and artistic works from Africa, South America and North America, as well as a massive collection of paintings. In addition, Jerusalem has many galleries, street art installations, open-air exhibitions and a wide range of festivals.

A groundbreaking exhibition that combined performance art and archaeology recently took place at a depth of 6.1 meters beneath the Wailing Wall. Nicole Kornberg Jacobovici exhibited 27 archaeology-inspired ceramics in the city’s subterranean tunnels. Kornberg Jacobovici suggests that the use of clay (which has been made into containers through the ages) will help her and others better connect with past cultures as if they were having a conversation with the ancients.

Art in Jerusalem is very area-specific since the city is divided into many religious quarters. Every quarter in the city contains thousands of years of history, so the inherent strife and conflicts have been a catalyst for creativity. In Jerusalem, we can feel more deeply the power of faith, pride, suffering and prejudice, as well as the impulse to transform these experiences into art.