Key Image Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem (Old City, Christian Quarter)
Jerusalem (Corpus Separatum)
Denomination: Ecumenical
Geogr. Coordinates: 31.77849° N, 35.22961° E
Geo Location
Reference year: 335
Description: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the various monasteries, churches and chapels of different Christian denominations attached to it form a historically evolved compound in a district of its own in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City; its centre is the rotunda of the Resurrection (property of all Christians)
Name derivation: From its purpose as a place of remembrance of the crucifixion, the entombment and the resurrection of Jesus Christ since the 4th cent. AD (also “Church of the Resurrection” or “Church of the Anastasis”, esp. for eastern denominations)
  • Main portal (12th cent.) with double door with pointed arch, friezes and mouldings and slender marble columns with Byzantine-style capitals
  • Cross of Light by Paul Nagel on the dome of the Catholicon (1996)
  • Three organs (dated 1982, 2014 and 2016) for the liturgy of the Franciscans (the “Latins”) by Rieger Orgelbau of Schwarzach (Austria)
  • Chapel of the Sepulchre/Aedicule: Location of the veneration of the Holy Sepulchre (14th station of the Cross), the place of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; located in the centre of the rotunda, which is covered by the larger of the two domes of the church
  • Calvary or rock of Golgota, according to tradition the site where Jesus died on the cross; on the upper level behind a steep stairway the Roman Catholic altar of the Nailing of the Cross (11th Station of the Cross) and the Greek Orthodox altar of the Crucifixion (the 12th Station of the Cross); the southern part belongs to the Roman Catholics, the northern part to the Greek Orthodox
  • Stoine of Anointing (near the church entrance), where Christ’s corpse is said to have been prepared for burial
  • Greek Orthodox Chapel of Adam underneath the rock of Golgota
  • Armenian Orthodox Chapel of St Helena and Roman Catholic Chapel of the Invention of the Holy Cross, where the place of the discovery of Christ’s cross is said to be in a former cistern, which is hewn directly into the rock
  • Catholicon: The nave at the centre of the church, accessible from the rotunda, containing the “Omphalos”, the alleged centre of the world; crossing covered by a dome with mosaics from 1994
2th cent.:   Veneration of the rock of Golgota and the tombs 40 metres away; Emperor Hadrian builds a temple for Aphrodite over the early Christian sanctuary as a sign of his triumph
325:   Following the synod of Nicaea Emperor Constantine orders the demolition of Hadrian’s temple, leading to the discovery of the few remnants of the tombs, which were said to be the location of Christ’s resurrection (historically and archaeologically plausible). Constantine commissions the bishop of Jerusalem, Macarius, and the architect Cenobius to “adorn this holy place with magnificent buildings”: Martyrion (five-aisled basilica remembering Christ’s passion), inner atrium around the rock of Golgota, and the “Anastasis” (“Resurrection”) rotunda with Jesus’ tomb.
13/09/0335:   Consecration of the Constantinian twin church (basilica)
614:   First destruction by the Persians, restoration by Modestus
1009:   The Fatimid caliph al-Hakim orders the destruction of the church, the rock of the tomb is dismantled
1011:   After massive protest al-Hakim orders the reconstruction
1028:   Re-opening under caliph az-Zahir
1049:   Restoration by Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus
Early 12th cent.:   Start of major rebuilding works after the victory of the Crusaders in 1099; reconstruction of the atrium as a late Romanesque cathedral (its current form), thereby uniting the remains of the tomb and the rock of Golgota under a single roof; the rotunda over the tomb is roofed with a wooden dome in the form of a truncated cone
15/07/1149:   Re-consecration on the 50th anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders
13th cent.:   Start of a centuries-long quarrel between the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Georgian, Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian denominations over the predominance in the sanctuary, leading to only the absolutely necessary repairs being effectuated
1555:   Redecoration of the Chapel of the Sepulchre (Aedicule) by the Franciscans
17th cent.:   The Georgians and Ethiopians lose all property claims in the church and relocate to the roof and to adjacent buildings
1720:   Completion of the reconstruction of the delapidated dome by the Franciscans
1767:   Decree by the Osman government partitioning the church between the denominations
1808:   Fire destroys large parts of the church, especially the rotunda; restoration by the Greek Orthodox (master builder Komnenos of Mytilene) in the “Ottoman Baroque” style
1852:   Last decree to partition the property claims, valid as the “Status Quo” until present: The main administration of the church is done by the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholic (represented by the Franciscan order) and the Armenian Apostolic churches; other denominations represented are the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Coptic Church and the Ethiopian-Orthodox Tewahedo Church; the keys to the church are entrusted to Muslim families (to this day)
1927:   Damaged by an earthquake
1960:   Restoration by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches; statical consolidation and attempt to restore the church as close as possible to the state of the Crusader period
02/01/1997:   Inauguration of the newly decorated dome
2016:   The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic churches agree to restore the Chapel of the Sepulchre (Aedicule) under the direction of Antonia Moropoulou; the building is disassembled, the building stones are repaired or replaced, and the Aedicule is rebuilt authentically and earthquake-safe
22/03/2017:   Ecumenical celebration of the successful restoration of the Aedicule; more restoration work to follow
Nave Height [m]:  50
Hohenester, Alexandra: Jerusalem: Die Grabeskirche,, retrieved 13/04/2020
Küchler, Max: Jerusalem. Ein Handbuch und Studienreiseführer zur Heiligen Stadt, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, pp. 409–483
Wikipedia: Church of the Holy Sepulchre,, retrieved 19/04/2020
Wikipedia: Grabeskirche,, retrieved 12/04/2020
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TuK Bassler
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