I came to know about the Garden Tomb when I visited the church of the Holy Sepulchre in last December. Local tourist guides told me about it as an ancient Jewish grave located in a beautiful garden that a few groups of Christians – mainly Protestants – consider as the original site of the burial of Jesus.
The garden tomb is located outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Damascus Gate. The knowledge of existence the Garden Tomb and the Holy Sepulchre promptly raised my interest to think that why there are two “real” sites of burial and resurrection for Jesus Christ.
Entry into the Garden Tomb
I started to walk from the Damascus Gate, and within a few minutes I reached the limestone-paved corridor that leads to the Garden Tomb. At the gate, a friendly gentleman greeted me and gave me a map of the place. The map helped me navigate inside the Garden Tomb. These maps are available in 30ish more languages. The entry into the Garden Tomb is free. However, you may choose to buy some souvenirs or donate some money at the end of your tour while you exit. The exit is through the souvenir shop.
Hours and timings
The garden remain closed on Sundays. On other days, the garden is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Eating is not allowed inside the garden. The garden is conceptualized as a place for self-reflection and contemplation and silence is recommended. However, I saw that large group of tourists who visit the place choose to talk and laugh freely.
Walking Inside the Garden Tomb
The garden tomb is, admittedly, a lovely garden. Inside, a lime-stone paved walking trail connects to all major antiquities. When I visited, the garden was full of beautiful flowers many of which I saw for the first time. I saw trails in all directions as I entered the Garden Tomb and it would have been very difficult to navigate the Tomb without the map the man at the entrance gave me. Thanks to him, I immediately took the map out and decided to go on my right.
The “Skull hill” and “The Rock of Golgotha”
During the mid-19th century, a few Christian historians raised doubts that whether the church of the Holy Sepulchre is indeed the original site of burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ citing reasons such as its location within the boundary of the Old City of Jerusalem.
After a short walk through the paved trail, I reached near the “Rock of Golgotha” on the Skull hill. The skull hill was first identified by Otto Thenius in 1842. As I have explained elsewhere in my blog about my experiences at the Church of Holy Sepulchre, the word “Golgotha” means “the place of the skull”.
As per the gospels, Jesus was crucified at a place known as “The Skull” outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem near a garden. The”Rock of Golgotha” near this garden used to look like the face of a man until a few years ago. A part of the “Rock of Golgotha” was shredded away during the last snowfall at the Garden Tomb a few years ago. Now, this rock does not look like the face of a skull or man. There is a visitor’s gallery overlooking the “rock of Golgotha” and nearby bus station.
The Cistern and the winepress
I continued to walk through the trails towards the direction of the tomb with the help of the map. On my way near to the tomb, I saw archeological sites that date back centuries. One of them is a water collection system or cistern during the time of crusaders. The other one is a winepress. The presence of both the cistern and the winepress somewhat confirms that the Garden Tomb was an agricultural garden during those times.
The other one is a winepress. The presence of both the cistern and the winepress somewhat confirms that the Garden Tomb was an agricultural garden during those times.
The tomb of Jesus
The tomb dates back to 7 or 8 centuries before the time of Jesus. The gospels say that Jesus was buried in a new rock-cut tomb that had never been used before. The symbol of crosses found
This argument then completely destabilizes the concept that Jesus was buried and later resurrected in the Garden Tomb. Thus, the Garden Tomb Association, who manages this place does not make any definitive claims as to this is the original site of the
If nothing else, the garden tomb gives us a unique opportunity to be in a serene garden while we travel back in time to see an ancient Jewish grave, a cistern from the Crusader period, and a winepress.
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