The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Authored by: Megan Boomer , Robert G. Ousterhout

Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936935
eBook ISBN: 9781315676517
Adobe ISBN:


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Shortly after the 325 ce Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine ordered the excavation of the purported rock-cut Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. Its discovery “against all expectation” prompted a major architectural campaign to glorify the place of Christ’s Entombment and Resurrection, and the nearby site of the Crucifixion. As the site was leveled, the tomb was exposed and regularized into a small Aedicule, and a large basilica was begun immediately to its east. The complex soon attracted pilgrims from all over the Christian world—and continues to do so today. The modern visitor to Jerusalem finds little clearly visible of Constantine’s church, however, and little clarity at the site. Nearly seventeen centuries of architectural interventions and historical change have resulted in jarring juxtapositions and a cacophony of competing references to sacred events and topographies (Figure 15.1). This chapter will trace the development of the complex, detailing the form of the structures at critical points in its history, as well as the sources for its interpretation.

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