Church of the Holy Sepulchre size and location


I was talking to a Muslim friend and I mentioned how a Muslim family has charge of the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Not being familiar with the church itself, I looked at pictures of it online, and then a floor plan.

I was surprised to see that the building covers both Jesus’ tomb and Calvary. Were they really that close to each other? In my mind, the Crucifixion always happened on a rural hill far from the city, and the tomb was some place distant as well.
But in reality, it seems all very small and close by.


The site of Calvary was outside the city when our LORD’S life took place, but the wall was later extended.

And the tomb would have been nearby, as there was no time to carry a heavy dead body any great distance. Joseph of Arimathea was fulfilling an emergency need (and work of mercy).



Watching too many movies?

Just wondering do you think the cross was also high up so that you have to look up rather than you are at eye level with the victim?


The dotted line on this map shows the present-day city walls, while the solid black line shows the walls as they are thought to have been in the Herodian period.

The reason why the keys are entrusted to a Muslim group is that the churches that hold the rights to different parts of the Basilica are constantly quarreling among themselves, particularly the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians. It’s a very sad story. A non-Christian is needed to have jurisdiction, acting as a neutral arbitrator to keep the Christians from squabbling all the time.


Maybe because it’s referred to as “Calvary hill,” “Mount Calvary,” and people are depicted as looking up at Jesus on the cross. I’m not sure, though. I wasn’t there at the time.


obviously no one knows for sure but there is some evidence the criminals in those times were probably crucified at eye level with the onlookers.


Pierre Barbet writes that because old door beams, which were about a bodylength long, were used for the cross, the victims ’ eyes were normally no higher than doorway height.

(I’ve also heard that this connects the Cross with the blood on doorways in the Passover.)

An exception would be the crux sublimis, imposed on offenders intended to become a harsh example, on which the body was indeed raised high above the ground. But this was rare, as wood has always been scarce in the region of Judaea.



This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit