Church of the Holy Sepulchre
October 18, 1009: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is destroyed. It is also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians. The site of the church was venerated as Golgotha or the Hill of Calvary where Jesus was said to be crucified as well as the place where Jesus was buried, hence the name. The church had been the destination of Christian pilgrims since at least the 4th century. Before becoming a Christian church, it was the location of a temple to Venus or Aphrodite. Around 325, Emperor Constantine I ordered the temple to be demolished and the soil removed.
After the purification of the land, a basilica was built and was referred to as early as 333. In 326, Constantine has his mother, Helena, build several more churches in the area to commemorate the life of Jesus. During excavation, she claimed to have found the True Cross and the tomb of Jesus. She built this church which was actually two connected churches over the two holy sites.
In 614 when the Persians invaded, they captured Jerusalem, the church, and the True Cross. They damaged the church. But just 26 years later Emperor Heraclius brought the Cross back and rebuilt the church. The Muslims moved into Jerusalem but the church remained Christian at first. However, on this day Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered it to be completely razed. It is said he was affronted by the annual Easter pilgrimage to the site to witness the miracle of the Holy Fire within the Sepulchre and so ordered the whole thing destroyed.
Next came negotiations between the caliph and the Byzantine Empire and eventually the Crusades began. The First Crusade was successful and the church was rebuilt in the Christian style. Later upgrades and updates were added to the church with the current dome being built in 1870. The latest restoration project was to that dome and completed in 1997. Today, the primary keepers of the church are the Easter Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and the Roman Catholic churches. Other churches are also involved and there are sometimes tensions between them. The church is a magnificent structure still located within the ancient walled City of Jerusalem.
“The exterior facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the east side of the church, was built by the Crusaders sometime before 1180.”
“Just inside the entrance to the left was the high bench where the Muslim doorkeeper sat: for years, a Muslim kept control of the keys to the church to prevent disputes between Christian sects over the holy site.”
“The east wall has a small domed structure that was once the 12th-century Crusader entrance to the Church on Calvary. It later became the Chapel of the Franks.”
In the wall by the entrance, steps lead to the roof of the edicule. A low door on the opposite side leads to the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, which contains the tomb of Christ itself.” – all from Sacred Destinations