The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church said to be built at the tomb of Jesus.
For Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the most important church, along with the Church of the Nativity built on the spot where Jesus was born.
It is believed that Jesus rose again from the death of crucifixion here called Golgotha, after his long walking the path of Via Dolorosa.
The church is located in the Christian district of the Old City. Children might guide you to the entrance, as it’s a bit hard to find, but they’ll ask for a tip.
History of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Roman emperor Constantine the Great built the first church here on the advice of his mother Helena.
She realized this place was Jesus’ crucifixion when she found the True Cross and the relics on her pilgrimage.
Because she was a devout Christian, she made his son build the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem in 326.
The Sasanian Empire attacked Jerusalem. Though the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was damaged and the True Cross was stolen, The Byzantine Empire took the cross back and rebuilt the church.
Palestine became under the control of the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate. However, the church stayed.
Al-Hakim of the Fatimid caliph destroyed the church.
The church was reconstructed after the death of Al-Hakim.
The church was damaged by an earthquake.
The Christians restored it with the permission of the Fatimid Empire.
Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos started a huge renovation of the church.
The Crusades conquered Jerusalem. The church was renovated by them into a gorgeous building; most part of the current appearance of the church dates back to this period.
Palestine was taken again by an Islamic force; the first sultan Saladin. He protected the Christians also with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
13th century to 16th century
Though the Mamluk Sultanate (from 1250) didn’t allow any repairment, the Ottoman Empire who took Jerusalem in 1517 accept smaller ones.
Under these Islamic forces, the church was left as is and fell into ruin.
The church was heavily destroyed by fire in 1808. Some parts were damaged also by Crimean War between 1853 and 1856.
Since these periods, Zionism escalated; the Jews started to come back to Palestine. Researchers from abroad investigated the church.
since the 20th century
The church was damaged again by a big earthquake in 1927. It was restored with aid from the United Kingdom.
When Jerusalem became under the control of Jordan after 1947, Jordan or Greek Orthodox repaired the church.
Visit Church of the Holy Sepulchre
There is always a long queue in front of the tomb of Jesus’ tomb; waiting time can be over 1 or 2 hours.
If you wish to visit the inside of the tomb of Jesus, it’s better to come in the early morning or before closing time.
The small chapel Catholicon just in front of the tomb is believed as “the center of the world” in Greek Orthodox.
Don’t miss its dorm showing a fabulous fresco of Jesus and his apostles.
Speaking of fresco, the one in front of Stone of The Anointing is a must-see. It tells the story of the descent from the Cross until the burial.
Because there are lots of legends linked with Jesus in this church, we recommend studying even a bit of the story of Jesus in advance if you aren’t familiar with Christianity.
- Summer (Apr to Oct): 5:00–21:00, Winter (Nov to Mar): 4:00–19:00
- Administration free