The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Each time it was rebuilt, some of the antiquities from the preceding church were used in the newer renovation or construction.
According to traditions dating back to the fourth century, it contains the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus's empty tomb, where he is believed by Christians to have been buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicula. The "status quo", an understanding between religious communities dating to 1757, applies to the site.
Within the church, proper are the last four stations of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of the Passion of Jesus. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis ('Resurrection').
Control of the church itself is shared a simultaneum, among several Christian denominations and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for over 160 years, and some for much longer. The main denominations sharing property over parts of the church are the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox.
Following the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 during the First Jewish–Roman War, Jerusalem had been reduced to ruins. In AD 130, the Roman emperor Hadrian began the building of a Roman colony, the new city of Aelia Capitolina, on the site. Circa AD 135, he ordered that a cave containing a rock-cut tomb[d] be filled in to create a flat foundation for a temple dedicated to Jupiter or Venus. The temple remained until the early 4th century. The church is generally considered the most important church in Christendom.