Rising out of the maze of alleyways that constitutes the Old City's Christian Quarter is the hulking edifice of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most important Holy Land pilgrimage destination for the Catholic and Orthodox denominations of Christianity. The massive church is built over the purported location of both Golgotha, the hill outside of Jerusalem upon which Christ was crucified, and the tomb in which he was laid (the eponymous sepulchre) before his resurrection.
Built on the orders of Emperor Constantine in 325, the church has attracted a steady stream of pilgrims since its construction (minus a few tumultuous periods of Christian-Muslim war). Control of the grounds and interior is sharply divided between Catholics and various Orthodox denominations, in a tenuous status quo that often degenerates into physical violence between monks, and has prevented much-needed structural repairs.
The individual shrines range from near-chintz to great works of art, and the cavernous interior provides a wealth of sights to take in. Unfortunately for those looking to have a quiet moment of religious contemplation, the church is often crowded with picture-snapping guided tour herds and rambunctious children.
Click here to light a candle in the Church of Holy Sepulchre
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