Deep in the recesses of the church is the 12th century Armenian Church of St Helena - along with the modernised Chapel of the Discovery of the Cross, hewn into the rock foundations.
By the Church of the Holy Sepulchre standards, it's a fairly quiet spot (and therefore one of my favourite spots) - most of the guided tours stop at the top of the steps with the guide pointing into the recesses without wandering into the lower depths.
Probably the most popular spot in the church (there's always a queue) is the Tomb Monument or Aedicule. It is also the 14th and final station of the cross.
The responsibility of the Greek Orthodox, it is an early 19th century 'gaudy newspaper kiosk in Salonika' (as described by one Franciscan monk), built after a fire gutted the church in 1808.
This stone monument, held together by a steel frame, encloses the tomb (sepulchre) where it is believed Christ lay buried for three days — and where he rose from the dead.
Inside there are two chambers. In the outer one - the Chapel of the Angel - stands a pedestal containing what is believed to be a piece of the rolling stone used to close the tomb.
A very low doorway leads to the tomb chamber itself, lined with marble and holy pictures. On the right, a marble slab covers the rock bench on which the body of Christ lay.
Attached to the external rear of the Aedicule is a tiny Coptic Chapel (no photos allowed).
The Rotunda is the largest of the two domes that form the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Stone of Unction greets you as you walk through the main entrance. This is worshipped as the stone of annointment before the burial of Jesus. (Its not the real one as the one now was placed here in 1810 - it is, however, constantly wet...).
Needless to say, it is constantly surrounded by the faithful.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is revered by Christians as the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the 4th century, Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine (Byzantion) and a convert to Christianity, traveled from Istanbul to Palestine and identified the location of the crucifixion; her son then built a magnificent church. The church was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The building standing today dates from the 12th century.
The Coptic St. Antony Monastery is located on the rooftop of the Holy Sepulcher and belongs to the Coptic Patriarch in the Old City (Egyptian Christians). It dates back to 325 AD. The Coptic Church of Saint Anthony is next to the Ninth Station of the Way of the Cross.
A multitude of crosses lead the way to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
The historic Deir al-Sultan the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery is located on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It consists of two chapels and the tiny rooms.
However, because of a long-standing dispute between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, whose clergy live at the site, and the Coptic Church, which claims ownership of it, the parties have not managed to reach an agreement that would allow renovations to proceed.
An early tradition associated the site of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as the center of the world, and by the X-th century it was marked by an omphalos. Today this is marked by a marble vessel in the west end of the Catholicon.
The pagan Greeks had their omphalos in Delphi.
You can see the colorful cupola above the Catholicon. It dates from after the 1927 earthquake. It is decorated with an image of Christ and other icons.
The galleries and dome are part of the Catholicon.
You can watch my 2 min 51 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Catholicon and Omphalos out of my Youtube channel.
The Catholicon is located just opposite the entrance to the Sepulchre. It occupies the main nave of the Church. It is the large nave of the church, which has been enclosed by a wall on all sides. This Greek Orthodox cathedral features a large iconostasis. On the left there is the throne of the Orthodox Patriarchate.
The rock can be seen under glass on either side of the main altar, and beneath the altar there is a hole that allows you to touch the rock itself. The slot cut for the cross is shown in the east apse along with those of the two thieves.
Crack in Calvary, said to be the one caused by the earthquake that occurred at the Crucifixion.
You will find the Chapel of Adam, located directly beneath Calvary and entered via a door near the Stone of Unction.
You can watch my 1 min 59 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Golhotha Calvary out of my Youtube channel.
A stairway on the right the Greek Chapel of the Derision just inside the entrance leads to Calvary (or Golgotha), the place where it is believed Jesus was crucified.
The first chapel is the Catholic (Franciscan) Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross, which is Station 11 on the Via Dolorosa. It features a 12th-century mosaic of Jesus being nailed to the cross on the vault and a Medici altar from Florence. Just to the left of the altar is a statue of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, which is Station 13 (Jesus' body removed from the cross and given to Mary).
On the far left is the Greek Orthodox Calvary, which contains the actual Rock of Calvary (Station 12) around which this church was built.
The Crucifixion can be touched under the central altar.
From the Chapel of St. Helen 13 more steps descend into the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. The left side is owned by the Catholics, whose altar features a life-sized statue of St. Helen (Constantine's mother) holding a cross. According to an early legend, Helen discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified while the church was being excavated and built around 330 AD.
The Greeks have the right side of the chapel.
29 steps downstairs lead to the Chapel of St. Helen.
It is owned by the Armenians and known to them as the Chapel of St. Gregory. On the stairway walls are many small crosses carved by medieval pilgrims. The chapel has three aisles and two apses: the north apse is dedicated to the penitent thief; the south apse to St. Helena, mother of Constantine. A seat in the southeast corner of the chapel is said to have been occupied by Helena as she searched for the True Cross, a story first mentioned around 351.
There is a wonderful floor mosaic in the Chapel of St. Helen.
You will find the Chapel of St. Vartan with a beautiful Pilgrim Ship in the left corner of the Chapel of St Helen.
You can watch my 2 min 19 sec HD Video Jerusalem Chapel of St. Helen and Mary Magdalene out of my Youtube channel.
The chapel of the Prison of Christ is located at the east end of the north aisle. According to XII-th century Catholic tradition it housed Jesus and the two thieves before the Crucifixion. The chapel probably originated as a liturgical station where the Passion and Death of Christ were commemorated.
The Greek Orthodox allege that the real place that Jesus was held was the similarly named Prison of Christ, within their Monastery of the Praetorium, located near the Church of Ecce Homo, at the first station on the Via Dolorosa.
You can see the Greek Chapel of St.Longius and the Armenian Chapel of Division of Robes to the right from the Prison of Christ.
The Greek Chapel of the Derision is located to the right. You will see the Triptych there.
The Roman Catholic area is located to the right (north) of the Sepulchre. It consists of a large square chapel (the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene) and another private chapel for Franciscan monks. The former is held to be the site where Jesus appeared to Mary after his resurrection. In the Crusader era, this chapel was approached from the street to the west via an impressive entrance portal.
You can watch my 2 min 33 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Prison of Christ and Outer part of Catholocon out of my Youtube channel.