The Garden Tomb Travel Guide- where Jesus was buried and resurrected?

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Ancient Jewish tomb thought to be of Jesus in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Ancient Jewish tomb thought to be of Jesus in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

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.

Location

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.

Entrance of the Garden Tomb.  The Skull hill is located towards the right a few meters away.
Entrance of the Garden Tomb. The Skull hill is located towards the right a few meters away.

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.

A short video tour inside the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

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.

Limestone-paved walking trail inside the Garden Tomb that leads to the Skull hill
Limestone-paved walking trail inside the Garden Tomb that leads to the Skull hill

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 observation deck towards the Skull hill at the Garden Tomb
The observation deck towards the Skull hill

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. According to the gospels, Jesus was buried outside the city walls in a rock-cut tomb. They then suggested the place where the Garden Tomb stands now as a potential real site of burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Skull hill as seen from the observation deck of  the Garden Tomb
The Skull hill as seen from the observation deck

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 walking trail from  a different part of the Garden Tomb
The walking trail from a different part of the Garden

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 water collecting system or cistern that dates back to the time of Crusaders in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
The water collecting system or cistern that dates back to the time of Crusaders.

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 inside and outside the tomb is of Byzantine type as old as 6th or 5th centuries.

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 burial of Jesus Christ.

The winepress that was escavated in 1924 near  the tomb of Jesus in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
The winepress that was escavated in 1924 near the tomb of Jesus

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.

The  tomb of Jesus inside the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
The tomb of Jesus inside the Garden Tomb

If you liked what you read, please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos. In case you have a comment about what I wrote, please write it down below in the comments section. I will answer them as soon as possible. Thank you for being here. Girish


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Girish Kaitholil
I was born and brought up in India. I came to Israel in 2015 to start my Ph.D. at Ariel University. I am naturally intrigued by the history of places and how they became what they are today. When I came to Israel, I realized that such a comprehensive resource does not exist in Israel. I thought, why not, let's write it. One article at a time. That's what you will read here. I hope these stories will give you a vivid and intense experience of the places that you visit in Israel. Any edits or new information are always welcome. Thanks for reading.

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