Centuries of candle smoke have blackened the walls of this subterranean shrine, one of Christianity's holiest sites. According to tradition, this is the resting place of Mary, mother of Jesus. Though strung with countless lanterns and crowded with icons worth millions of shekels, the space is faintly lit. A central shrine is cloaked in velvet, and pilgrims can duck inside.
A monument was first constructed at this site in the 5th century but was repeatedly destroyed. The facade of the current structure dates to the Crusader period of the 12th century, but the crypt is Byzantine. An ancient cistern lies beneath the floor.
The eggs atop the shrine's pendulous oil lamps aren't an Easter decoration: they form an obstacle course that makes it difficult for rats to clamber down the chain.