What is the Garden Tomb
The Garden Tomb has no church and no archaeology and is probably not the burial-place of Jesus. However, the Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. One can feel the holy atmosphere and still be happy. While officially the Garden Tomb Association only maintains this as a possible site for Jesus’ burial, some tour guides of the site are convinced of the authenticity. The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom .
The Garden Tomb is an alternative site to the famous Holy Sepulchre for you to consider the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. The Garden is a beautiful place in which you will discover several things that were all here on the night Jesus died and which match the accounts in the four Gospels. The Garden Tomb does not claim to be in the right place as we could never prove that; but where Jesus died is of little importance to them compared with why.
The Garden Tomb is a quiet place preserved for worship and reflection in the many garden chapels.
History of the Garden Tomb
Charles Gordon, a famously heroic British general during the 19th century, was in Jerusalem in the late 1800s and conducted his own investigation into the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. After reading the Resurrection account while in Jerusalem, he recalled the sight of a jagged rock face at a nearby quarry that eerily resembled a human skull. Gordon became convinced that this was Golgotha (which in Hebrew means “place of the skull”), the site where Jesus was crucified, according to the Gospel accounts.
Other pilgrims preceding Gordon had recorded similar thoughts in their journals. They included Col. Claude R. Conder in 1870, who conducted surveys in Palestine as a member of the British Corps of Royal Engineers, and German theologian and scholar Otto Thenius in 1842.
It was due to Gordon’s efforts, however, that many began to seriously look at the site of the Garden Tomb as a possible location for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. His claims, supported in part by the writings of Conrad Schick, a German archaeologist and missionary, brought other archaeologists to examine the site.
The Hill of the Skull
The slope has eroded badly in the last hundred years, but some maintain they can still see the eye sockets and the nose bridge. Regardless, it must be noted that while the Bible locates the crucifixion at the “place of the skull,” it never says that it was on a hill, nor that this place bore the resemblance of a skull. It also could be asked if this hill which resembles a skull looked the same 2000 years ago.
The Resting Place
This is the place believed by many to be the resting place of Jesus. Some archaeologists question the authenticity of this tomb because typological features suggest that it is a tomb originally hewn in the time of the Old Testament and not a “new tomb” as specifically stated in Scripture.
The Garden Tomb is the most popular Protestant tourist site in Israel visited by 250,000 pilgrims a year from 90 nations. There are guides in 15 languages. The Garden is open for tours and worship services every Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:30. Because the Garden is often busy, groups must book their visit in advance.
There are places to sit, drinking water and pleasant bathroom facilities, including provision for the disabled. Wheelchair access is good for a general tour of the Garden.
Self-guide leaflets providing a detailed description of the garden are available in 45 languages. Audio Guides are available in 26 languages. The main tour has eight stops, and some supplementary information. You can select from a wide range of languages too. There is also a well-stocked gift shop with very reasonable prices.