On the last day of our trip, we walked the Via Dolorosa, which ends in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This traditional location of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus is, along with the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the most sacred places in Christianity.
Holy Sepulchre is a complicated site, with a long history behind its construction and a complex division of space (and use) between Christian denominations that is based on the status quo decree of a Turkish sultan in 1853. Touring the place is not easy given the huge size of the church, the large crowds, the lack of informative labeling of so much of the interior, and the difficult acoustics. However, it is a holy and amazing place that easily brings a sense of awe to Christians’ souls and a lump to the throat when we ponder its true significance.
Having been to the site, now take a look at some of the “big picture” behind its development. The Wikipedia article on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is very informative, and a group called Associazione di Terra Santa has an interesting 3D video on YouTube that traces the site backward in time from the current structure to how the original landscape may have looked at the time of Jesus. You can see the 14-minute video below. (Note that the “bench” in the tomb is a reconstruction that dates to AD 1048 and is probably not identical to the original, though the drawings in the video show them as the same.)