The Old City: Site of the Holy Sepulchre

2. The Old City: Site of the Holy Sepulchre

The old city is segregated by 4 quarters: Christian, Muslim, Jewish and the Armenian quarter


Image: Map of the old city during the 12th Century, Michael Zank

The church of the Holy Sepulchre was the goal of crusading endeavour and the most elaborate product of their building enterprise.

The most obvious prototype of the crusading work would be a Cluniac pilgrimage church of southern France. Architectural evidence suggests the Dome of the Rock to be a building of the time of Emperor Constantine. However there is strong debate as to whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a relic during the time of Constantine. The significance of this lies in the fact the Holy Sepulchre Church and preserving its historical integrity was one of the predominant ideological reasons for the Christian crusaders of 1099 AD.

Indeed, there is not in the quarter of the city where the Sepulchre is situated (except the remains of the old walls, and the Jewish antiquities mentioned above,) one single carved stone or fragment that can claim a date earlier than the period we are now speaking of, or the tenth and eleventh centuries; and nothing that could lead us to suppose that any older Christian buildings ever existed here.

Control of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is gravely contested by the various denominations of Christianity (Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Armenian Christians), this ultimately culminated in the 12th Century with the Arabian conqueror Saladin handing over the keys to the church to the Muslim Nuseibeh and Joudeh families as a means of quelling the internal tensions.

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