The capture and destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 70 AD, during the summer months, marking the culmination of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman legions were led by the future Emperor Titus, son of the then Emperor Vespasian. The defenders of Jerusalem were a mixture of Jewish rebel factions that had managed to hold the city since a widespread rebellion against Roman rule began in 66 AD.
The Roman legions first captured the "Upper City," also known as Zion, home to Jerusalem's aristocrats, wealthier citizens, and high priestly families. It was a beautiful area with ornate, high-quality architecture and broad, well-built streets.
After a brutal siege, the Romans finally breached the walls of the Holy City and moved on to assault the Temple Mount, the sacred heart of Jerusalem. It was here that the Second Temple, the centre of Jewish worship, was located.
Titus had initially hoped to preserve the Temple, but amidst the chaotic fighting, the Temple was set ablaze and destroyed, signalling a catastrophic loss for the Jewish people. Although the specific individual who started the fire remains unknown, the act marked a turning point in Jewish-Roman relations.
Intriguingly, Titus had a romantic relationship with Berenice, a Jewish princess of the Herodian dynasty. She was in Jerusalem during the early stages of the war but left before the siege. Later, she joined Titus in Rome, where their relationship continued.
Today, you can see the stones that once formed the upper part of the Western Wall, lying where they fell nearly two millennia ago during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. These fallen stones are a stark and tangible reminder of the city's tumultuous past.