JERUSALEM — My guidebook to Jerusalem pictures a medieval map of the world, symbolically represented as a cloverleaf with three petals: Europe, Asia, and Africa. America exists as a trivial island.
At the center of the world is Jerusalem. For the city's present-day inhabitants, little has changed.
Jerusalem was the spiritual center of the Judaean wilderness, where Jesus died and was resurrected. It was from Jerusalem Muhammad ascended to heaven during his night journey.
Today, it remains the center of religious and, in many cases, cultural life for people of many casts, creeds and faiths, although Jews, Muslims and Christians arguably have a greater historical claim on the city.
As such, it has a tragic tendency toward violence and upheaval, the result of disputing claims to the region, and the city in particular.
Indeed, the recent violence in nearby Gaza is only the latest episode in a cycle of turmoil and bloodshed that defines Israel's 60-year history.
Regardless of the risks, millions visit the city each year, for reasons of business and tourism, and often as part of a pilgrimage.
But the city also has its quiet times, often in the early morning, or late evening, when inhabitants can go about their daily lives in relative peace and quiet.
This slideshow captures a few of those precious moments.