Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The site of both the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus, the Church of Holy Sepulchre is arguably the holiest destination on a tour of the Holy Land. The richly decorated church is Jerusalem's most important Christian landmark. Originally built in Byzantine times, numerous renovations have made the church a fascinating complex of structures and an example of medieval architecture at its best. As a result, imitations of the church have been built all over Europe.

Pilgrims often choose to approach the church by walking along the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took on the way from his arrest to his crucifixion. The last six Stations of the Cross are located at or in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and they follow Jesus through his final moments and burial.

A rocky outcropping marks the spot where the cross was placed. The Rock of Calvary is part of the church's Greek Orthodox chapel and is covered in glass. The area surrounding it is decorated lavishly with scenes from the crucifixion. A Roman Catholic altar to the side is presided over by a statue of Mary working wonders. The Stone of the Anointing (or Unction), the location where Jesus' body was prepared for burial, is a popular spot for worship. The Edicule preserves the location of the tomb of Jesus and it is marked by a beautiful archway surrounded by columns.

The church is open daily and free of charge to visitors. It can be overcrowded, but early mornings are generally less busy. Visitors are asked to dress modestly.

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