Guide to Church of the Holy Sepulcher, center of Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a unique shrine that pilgrims and tourists from all over the world want to get into. Despite the lack of pretentious splendor and expensive decorative elements, an atmosphere of grandeur and undeniable holiness reigns in it. You will not find another such place anywhere!

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

General information

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem or, as it is also called, the Resurrection of Christ is included in the list of the most significant shrines not only in Jerusalem, but also in the entire religious world. It is a huge complex of buildings built on the site of the execution, burial and ascension of the Son of God Jesus Christ. The first mention of the temple, located in the Christian quarter of the historical part of the city, refers to 4 tbsp. n e. Even then, he was the object of a mass pilgrimage of the bogovers arriving in Israel from various states.

The Rite of the Descent of the Holy Fire

Today, the cult temple complex belongs to just six Orthodox faiths – Syrian, Greek, Coptic, Roman Catholic, Armenian and Ethiopian. Each of them has not only its limits, but also hours for prayers. In addition, the head office of the Christian Church of Jerusalem operates in the administrative wing of the Temple. But the main thing is that it is here that the annual ritual of the descent of the Holy (Holy) Fire is held, the television broadcast of which takes place around the world.

Short story

The mountain on which the Temple of the Holy Sepulcher was built in Israel is considered one of the oldest places of worship – they began to come to it from the 2nd century. Unfortunately, scientists were unable to establish what exactly was here in those distant times. But according to the most popular version at the top was a temple dedicated to the goddess of beauty Aphrodite.

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Underground Church of St. Helena
Church of St. Helena

The situation changed only after several millennia, when the mother of the emperor Constantine I Elena ordered to erect a Christian basilica on the site of the pagan altar. During the excavations carried out before the construction began, it was she who was fortunate enough to find unique shrines associated with Jesus! It was about the Life-giving Cross of the Lord, 4 nails, a tablet with the inscription INRI and a cave in which the Son of God was supposedly buried. It is these findings that served as the reason to devote the Church of the Messiah. The consecration of the new complex took place in 335 in the presence of the emperor, members of his family and priests who arrived in Israel from other countries.

Plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, 1872

At the beginning of the 11th century, the Church of the Resurrection of Christ was almost completely demolished by order of the “mad Egyptian caliph” Al-Hakim-Amrullah. The losses were so great that the subsequent reconstruction of the building took almost half a century. But this is not all the trials that fell to the lot of the main shrine of Jerusalem. Ahead were pogroms, natural disasters and serious fires. The latter, which happened in 1808, caused damage to all buildings and decorative elements. This not only entailed regular repairs, but also led to great changes “in appearance”.

Scheme of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

After Jerusalem was conquered by the troops of Saladin, the complex passed into the possession of Muslims. Despite the fact that the Temple was, remains and will be a mecca for all Christians, the keys to it are kept in an ancient Muslim family. The main reason for this decision was the desire of the religious elite to avoid conflict situations between representatives of different faiths.

Temple architecture

The photo of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Israel, presented in the tourist avenues, clearly shows that it consists of several architectural structures. Let’s consider only the main ones.

The main entrance
The main entrance

The facade of the church from the main entrance is considered one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture of the 12th century. Initially connected portal lunettes were decorated with marble panels depicting the Burial of the Savior and the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem. They were later donated to the Rockefeller Museum.

The territory located on the right side of the door deserves no less attention. There you can see a wooden hatch that covers the tomb of Philippe d’Aubigne, a French knight who defended Emperor Frederick II at the entrance to the city. By the way, the door itself has more than one thousand years of age – it was laid back under Salah ad-Din.

Column of holy fire
Column of holy fire

The next attraction of the temple complex is the Corinthian column, made of white marble and adorning the left side of the portal. Unlike other exactly the same pilasters, it simply split on one of Great Saturdays. Perhaps the reasons for this phenomenon could be easily explained from the point of view of physics, but the religious community is inclined to believe in the divine origin of this defect. The fact is that in those days, fierce disputes over Easter were waged between the anti-Chalkidonite Armenians and the Orthodox. The latter celebrated Easter 7 days earlier. As a result, the Ottoman ruler ordered the Temple to be locked up and the Orthodox not allowed to enter the annual service. Outraged by this decision, believers, led by clergy Athanasius and Parthenius, came to pray at the door. Suddenly the wind rose dark clouds gathered and a powerful roar came. He split the column, from the middle of which the Holy Fire suddenly arose.

Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows is a small structure, towering at the eastern end of the courtyard and serving as the entrance hall of the Golgotha ​​chapel. It is often called the Franconian Chapel or the Chapel of the Attraction of the Robe – this is due to events that occurred after the execution of Jesus Christ. Scientists believe that it was in this room that Roman soldiers were engaged in sharing things of the deceased Messiah.

Triumphal Arch

Picturesque photos of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (Israel) indicate that the Arc de Triomphe or the Monomakh Arch, combined with the interior only a small step, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the complex. It was built in memory of Constantine IX, the Roman ruler, who carried out the restoration of the church in 1048.

Triumphal Arch

The main decoration of this building can be called balconies, arranged on both sides of the passage and turned to Kuvukliya. Until 1917, they housed consuls, presidents and honored guests from the main Orthodox states who came to Israel for solemn services. In addition, under the arch you can see a stone lintel with an inscription glorifying “Mother of the Churches of God.”

Anointing stone

The anointing stone in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, lying right at the entrance, is hidden behind a slab of white marble. Everyone who comes here wants to touch it, because it was in this place, according to ancient legends, that the crucified Christ lay. Over the sacred relic, 8 lamps are lit, symbolizing the sphere of influence of religious denominations. The stone streams with a mixture, which includes 40 components not found in nature. These include incense, with which our ancestors cleaned the bodies of the dead before burial.

Anointing stone

For several decades, scientists have been trying to understand the nature of this phenomenon. But neither round-the-clock video filming, nor close monitoring of the stone, nor all kinds of analyzes yielded anything. However, thousands of pilgrims who come to Israel are looking here not for scientific evidence and explanations, but for tranquility and the opportunity to be healed.

Interior decoration

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, a photo of which is present in most tourist avenues in Israel, consists of 3 parts.

Temple of the resurrection

The Church of the Resurrection or Katholikon, located in the central part of the complex, is fenced off from others by walls that do not reach the ceiling. Initially, it included several shrines, but Greek reconstruction dramatically changed the overall structure of the structure. In addition to the side walls, which also appeared at its end, a high iconostasis was installed in the church, two 2 throne places (for the Patriarch of Israel and his epitrope), as well as a gallery with three balconies from which the priest reads the texts of the Gospel.

Church of the Resurrection

Under the dome of Katholikon, towering above its northern part, is the “mesomphalos”. It is a marble hemisphere, placed on a special stand and pointing to the so-called “navel of the Earth.” The dome itself is decorated with a mosaic depicting 12 saints, the Virgin Mary, St. John and the two main guardian angels – Gabriel and Michael. The niches between the windows are decorated with portraits of angels made today. The temple of the Lord’s Resurrection is surrounded by wide galleries. In one of them you can see the Arcade of the Virgin – majestic 4-sided obelisks and columns, among which you can see the remains of the marble structure of the emperor Hadrian.

Calvary Temple
Entrance to Calvary

You can get into this area of ​​the temple complex by a 13-step staircase located at the entrance to the Katholikon. There are 2 naves (for Orthodox Christians and Catholics) and a hole in the ground, from where the cross was removed (indicated by a silver circle). Dipping your hand into the recess, you can touch Calvary, the place where Christ was executed. Near the silver circle there are 2 black ones – they point to the crosses of criminals killed with the Prophet. There is a fairly noticeable crack in the nearby rock. They say that she appeared at the same time as the martyr’s last breath.

Calvary Temple

In addition, another interesting giving is connected with Golgotha ​​in Israel. It is believed that at the site of the future crucifixion, Adam, the progenitor of all mankind, expelled from Paradise due to the fall, was buried. The blood of Christ, leaked through the earth, fell on the remains of the first man and atoned for sins.

Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher

The marble Kuvukliya, built over the Holy Sepulcher, includes two parts – the cave, which became the tomb of Jesus, and the Angel chapel. It is here on Easter Saturday that the Sacred Fire is lit, which is then spread all over the planet.

Entrance to Kuvuklia

In the middle of the chapel stands a pedestal with a piece of sacred stone broken by an angel. During the liturgy, it is used as a throne. Lamps burn along the wall – 15 pieces in 3 rows (according to the number of confessions). The entrance to Kuvukliya is decorated with a marble portal, on one side of which the archangel Gabriel is depicted, and on the other – the myrrh-bearing wife. The marble canopy located at the top of the portal deserves no less attention. The inscription on it indicates the resurrection of the Son of God.

Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher

The main attraction of the chapel is the Three Day Stone Bed of Christ, installed in a small chamber. Once it was in free access, but in 1812 it was covered with a marble slab that protects the shrine from vandals. On the shelves nailed near the Tridnevny bed, there are icons of the Resurrection – one from each Orthodox denomination.

How to get there

Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (Israel) is located at 1 Helena Str., Old City, POB 186, Jerusalem. You can get into it in several ways.

Method 1. On foot from the Old Town

You can go to the territory of the main Israeli shrine both from the Christian quarter and from the street. Suk Khan al-Zeit.

It looks like a bus in Jerusalem
Method 2. By bus:
  • No. 99, 13, 41, 19, 30, 20 of the Egged transport company – go to the Jaffa Gate of Old Jerusalem;
  • No. 38 – runs to the Jewish quarter;
  • No. 1, 2, 3, and 21 – stop at the Damascus Gate.

Important! The route is better to clarify at the reception of the hotel.

Method 3. On the light metro

The Jerusalem aboveground metro, more reminiscent of an ordinary tram, is represented by one branch – “City Hall” – “Damascus Gate”. The first station is near the New Gate. The second is near Damask.

Jerusalem Overground
Method 4. By taxi

This option is considered not only the most convenient, but also the most expensive. Those who want to save money are advised to go out near the New Gate – they are closest to the Temple.

Working hours

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

The schedule of the temple complex in Israel depends on the time of year.

Summer (April – September):

  • Mon-Sat – from 5.00 to 21.00;
  • Sun – from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Winter (October – March):

  • Mon-Fri from 4.00 to 19.00.

Important! More information can be obtained on the official website:

Useful Tips

When deciding to visit a shrine, be sure to consider several important points:

A large influx of tourists
  1. The smallest influx of tourists is observed in the early morning (around 8.00) and in the evening (16.00-17.00). At this time, you can safely sightsee, take pictures as a keepsake and touch the stone of anointing in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher;
  2. The complex is often closed a little later than the specified time, so do not rush to leave its territory;
  3. Before your trip, find out if big Christian holidays fall during your stay in Jerusalem. Due to the huge number of pilgrims, getting into the church will be difficult;
  4. Everyone can attend the daily worship services. The only condition is proper appearance and compliance with the basic rules;
  5. The temple has a dress code, so during his visit you can not wear short skirts, shorts, dresses with a neckline, high-heeled shoes, as well as tight-fitting and too bright dresses. Women need to cover their heads with a handkerchief;
  6. Do not forget to choose comfortable and maximum closed shoes – you will have to walk a lot;
  7. If you want your loved ones to be mentioned during prayer, write their names on a piece of paper and give it to one of the monks. Names should be no more than 10, case – nominative, text – in Cyrillic. Extra words should not be, because the notes are read by priests who do not know the Russian language.
Prayers in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

And one more nuance. After visiting the complex, many ask how to use candles from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Firstly, it should be noted that they are sold in bundles of 33 pieces each. Jerusalem candles are usually set on fire from the Holy Fire and extinguished with a special cap or with bare hands (you can’t blow out a bunch). Next, the bunch is taken home, in no case not dividing it into parts. It is believed that Jerusalem candles hold a life-giving power and are an incredibly powerful amulet. Moreover, each candle lit from the sacred bundle receives the same qualities.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (Israel) is not only an important historical attraction, but also the main symbol of the Christian religion. Everything here is so saturated with the spirit of the time that even complete atheists begin to feel heavenly grace. Do not believe me ?! Well, you have every chance to experience this for yourself. Have a nice rest and new amazing discoveries!

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