TRAVEL AND PHOTO TODAY VISITS
THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The most sacred of all Chistian sites in Jerusalem, it is also the most visited location in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. It’s a large, imposing, and rather rambling and complex construction that has grown, expanded, and developed over the centuries since the first Roman basilica was built in the mid- 4th century AD. The location is traditionally held to be the site of Christ’s Crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Today the Church is surrounded by shops and hostels, other churches and a maze of tiny, meandering streets and alleyways. The quarters are tight and it’s impossible to get any kind of an overall view of the Church.
Inside the Church the situation is similar. Spaces are tight and are connected by twisting and turning walkways and stairs. Confusion and complexity are increased by the fact that the interior is divided into various chapels and spaces allotted to and controlled by six different denominations.
The Middle East has long been an area of conflict and so it is perhaps only a bit of a surprise that The Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself has a history of discord. A most holy site for Christianity, it seems that every branch of the faith wanted a piece of the Church. Finally in 1852 an Ottoman decree proclaimed that six different regional denominations – Armenians, Greeks, Copts, Roman Catholics, Ethiopians, Syrians – would share “custody” of the Church, each being given control over distinct sections within the walls. In order to avoid further bickering the keys to the Church are held by a neutral “key holder” – a Muslim.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a prime destination for visiting pilgrims. Not surprisingly, the church tends to be extremely crowded with visitors from around the world.The large number of visitors adds significantly to the rather chaotic and cramped atmosphere around and within the Church. If you were thinking of your visit as being a quiet, reflective, and spiritual experience – well, best think again. While the Church’s location and purpose are of extreme spiritual relevance – well, the experience is not so spiritual. There is a constant noise, hub bub, movement and jostling of visitors. It can be difficult to get a view of sites and locations within the Church and lines to view significant areas can become extremely long. The Church is open from 6 am to 7 pm ( times may vary – best to check prior to a visit) . While the Church tends to be very busy most of the day you may find it less crowded either very early or very late.
Below are images and a brief video of some of the significant sites within The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
A small stone courtyard stands outside the main entrance to the Church.
Stone of Unction
Immediately inside the main door visitors encounter The Stone of Unction, held traditionally to be the location where Christ’s body was anointed and wrapped.
Visitors kneel and pray at the Stone of Unction – viewed from above.
The alter and shrine in the Greek Orthodox area of the Church.Glass panels to either side of the alter allow views of underlying rock outcroppings – the traditional site of the Crucifixion.
A large stone monument sits at the center of the Church’s domed Rotunda. It covers the rock upon which Christ’s body was believed to have been laid. The tombs is often the most intensely visited area of the Church with hundreds of pilgrims crowding into the rotunda – standing in a long winding line to enter and briefly view the interior of the monument.
Rotunda Dome and Oculus above Christ’s Tomb
Candles and Prayers within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Click below for a brief video of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
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© 2019, Bruce W Bean, Ph.D. All rights reserved.