Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem Travel Information
Photos from Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem and Israel. The Church contains the Chapel of Golgotha and three Stations of the Cross, as well as the place of Jesus Christ's burial and resurrection.
The history of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Today's Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands in the place where a temple dedicated to Aphrodite used to stand. This temple was built during the Roman Empire's time on the location where Christ was crucified and buried, so it will be forgotten. Ironically, the building of the temple actually preserved the exact burial site's location.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built by Constantine I the Great during the fourth century, after he became christian, and turned Christianity to the official religion of the Roman empire. In the year 326, Constantine I sent his mother, Helena, to seek the Crucifixion location in Jerusalem. Helena found the place and also found the remains of the cross itself. In that same place, 7 years later, Constantine I founded the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the year 333.
At the time of the Persian occupation of Jerusalem in the year of 614, most of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's structure was ruined. The church was built again in a more limited composition, but during the 11th century was facing demolition again by the hands of the Calif Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (meaning 'Ruler by God's Command'). This danger is what initiated the crusades, who's call was to return the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Jerusalem to christian hands.
When the christian crusaders occupied Jerusalem in 1099, they built a new church, that today still stands.
After Jerusalem's occupation by the hands of Tslah A-Din in the year of 1187, The Holy Sepulchre Church was given for safe keeping to two Moslem families, the Nusseibeh and the Joudeh families, who own the place today, and currently hold the keys to the church.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was also called the Church of Resurrection (Anastasis). The Muslim name for the church is Al-Kaima, meaning Resurrection.
Getting to Church of the Holy Sepulchre
To reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, you should enter from the Jaffa gate of Jerusalem's old city. After entering, keep walking to the entrance to the market. Walk down the market's main street (David Street), and turn left on the first turn to Christians Street. Take the third turn to the right into St. Helen Street, which will lead you to the entrance to the Holly Sepulchre Church.
Hotels in Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Book your hotel in Church of the Holy Sepulchre early to avoid last minute high prices, as hotels in Jerusalem tend to fill up quickly.
(booking.com is our recommendation for the best prices and availability)
Golgotha (Calvary) Hill
The where Jesus Christ was crucified is named Golgotha (the place of the skull). This hill is situated inside the structure of the church. Actually, it looks like this hill is named so because of its form, the reminding of a person's skull. Other traditions tied to this place say that this is the burial site of the first man, and is also the place where the bounding of Isaac by Abraham.
Nowadays, there is a chapel on this hill, where tradition points to the exact place where Christ's cross was placed.
The burial site
After Christ was taken down from the cross, Joseph of Arimathea buried him in a tomb that Joseph had donated. When the church was built on that spot 300 years later, the hill around the tomb was removed, so only a small structure remains, on a flat surface.
A rotunda was built around the tomb's structure, with a large dome.