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Throughout the medieval period, the city in which Christ had been crucified and resurrected remained the holiest of cities and so the ultimate pilgrimage site.

Particularly during the 88 years in which the city was in Christian hands, tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims flocked to the Holy Land each year to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and visit the other sites associated with the life of Jesus.

There was not just the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Calvary Chapel, but dozens of churches catering to different Christian communities, Syrian and Armenian, Greek and Maronite, as well as the Latins.

There were also the two great mosques on the Temple Mount which had been converted into churches, as well as the austere but lovely Church of St. As for the bulk of the population, while accommodation would have ranged from the comfortable to the squalid as in any city in the world, nevertheless, this being an ancient, eastern city, it was well supplied with public cisterns, reservoirs, and baths.

It offered splendid views of the sea as well — so large windows.

While John’s residence was built half a century later, it was also the home of a mere nobleman rather than a king.

Arab sources stress that even when they re-took Jerusalem in 1187 (after a siege that did entail the use of stone throwers and mining), they still found many beautiful residences with “superb columns of marble and slabs of marble and mosaics in large quantities.” (Ibn al-Athir) Much of this ornamentation would have pre-dated the Christian period, but not all of it.

Certainly, many churches were built and/or re-decorated in the crusader period and many of the craftsmen came from or were trained in Constantinople or by Byzantine masters.

The gardens, for example, would have included palms, citrus fruits, pomegranates and other distinctive Mediterranean vegetation, such as oleander and hibiscus.

Common at this time were citrus orchards, but figs, dates, and almonds were also cultivated to serve the urban population.

Almost certainly, there were also vineyards surrounding Jerusalem during the Christian period as wine was an important product of the kingdom, necessary for the liturgy and consumed in large quantities locally.

Undoubtedly some of these craftsmen also found employment on secular as well as sacred building projects.

Life in any medieval Christian city was, of course, characterized by the pervasive presence of the Church and nowhere — except possibly in Rome — was the Church more important than in Jerusalem.

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