Lonely Planet Writer

Tomb believed to be Jesus’ final resting place reopens to the public today

The tomb where Jesus is said to have been buried in Jerusalem has been opened to the public today after a major €4 million restoration. Work at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city began last summer and was finished ahead of time.  

 Greek archaeologists have been working since June 2016 to restore the tomb.
Greek archaeologists have been working since June 2016 to restore the tomb.

The undertaking was part of a review of the shrine, which is said to have been constructed on the site of his crucifixion, burial and resurrectionThe restoration also included the opening of what is believed to be the burial chamber, which had not been opened since 1810, when the last restoration work took place on the tomb. The restoration was paid for with funding from the six denominations which share custody of the Holy Sepulchre, according to The Guardian newspaper.  

Greek preservation experts work to strengthen the Edicule surrounding the Tomb of Jesus
Greek preservation experts work to strengthen the Edicule surrounding the Tomb of Jesus Image by Getty Images

As many as 5000 pilgrims a day visit the church, many walking along the Via Dolorosa, a path through Jerusalem’s old city where Jesus bore his cross on his way to Calvary. The National Technical University of Athens, which previously worked on restorations of both the Acropolis in Athens and the Hagia Sophia Istanbul, spearheaded the renovation mission. The site is set to be reopened today with clergy members from all faiths present.

A picture taken on November 4, 2016 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City
A picture taken on 4 November, 2016 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City. Image by Getty Images

Rainwater had caused deterioration and corrosion over the centuries and the specialists removed crumbling mortar and remade parts of the damaged masonry and columns. There was a split in the top of the tomb and the challenge was to lift it without causing any further breakage.

Christian worshippers enter the Edicule surrounding the Tomb of Jesus
Christian worshippers enter the Edicule surrounding the Tomb of Jesus Image by Getty Images

Experts from the National Technical University of Athens removed the marble cladding, and found a cross carved onto another marble slab. Beneath that, they also discovered a limestone slab which the experts believe had not been seen since the 1500s and could have been made from the wall of the cave that served as Jesus’ final resting place.

 
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