JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Edicule, Containing the Tomb of Christ, Jerusalem

For those interested in the historicity of the Tomb of Christ and the Church of Holy Sepulcher, the following online link will be very helpful:
Unlike some other Christian sites in Israel, the authenticity of the 'Tomb of Christ' is well supported by historical documents and very strong reliable traditions. Underneath a large dome the Tomb of Christ, is enshrined in a large box-like structure called the edicule. The current structure was built in 1809-10 after the severe fire of 1808. It replaced one dating from 1555. The original 4th-century shrine constructed under Constantine was destroyed by the sultan Hakim in 1009.

According to the 4th Cent. Historian Eusebius (attested also by Jerome), Roman Emperor Hadrian built a statue of Jupiter on the site and it remained for 180 years (140-320 A.D.)  When Constantine converted the empire to Christianity, he had the pagan temples dismantled, the earth removed and a church built over the spot (326 AD). The Christian community of Jerusalem held worship services at the site until 66 AD records Eusebius. Hadrian built the pagan Temple on the site regarded holy by Christians so as to claim the site for traditional Roman religion. All facts and traditions put together, this very site has a very high probability of being the 'Tomb of Christ'.

Inside, the edicule are two small rooms. The first is the Greek Orthodox Chapel of the Angel, which features an altar containing a piece of the stone rolled away by angels at the Resurrection. The inner room  is the actual Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher-the tomb of Christ. 

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