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Where Is Golgotha: Holy Sepulchre or Garden Tomb? *

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan. Photo:

The Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb are the two locations which have archeological evidence that suggests these could be the Burial Caves of Jesus Christ.


Golgotha, or Calvary (skull) according to the Gospels was a site immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus was crucified. In Latin it is rendered Calvariæ Locus, from which the earliest English word Calvary derives.

Traditional site of Golgotha, within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Photo: Иерей Максим Массалитин

All four writers of the Gospels use the Greek word (Kraníon) when testifying to the place outside Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. Kranion is often translated as Skull in English, but more accurately it means Cranium, the part of the skull enclosing the brain. In Latin Kraníon is rendered Calvariæ, from which the English word Calvary derives.

In Search of The Real Tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre contains, according to traditions dating back at least to the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, known as “Calvary” (Calvāria) in Latin and “Golgotha” (Γολγοθᾶ, “Golgothâ”) in Greek, and Jesus’s empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by the 18th-century shrine, called the Edicule (Aedicule).

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem, which was unearthed in 1867 and is considered by some Protestants to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The tomb has been dated by Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay to the 8th–7th centuries BC.

According to the New Testament , Jesus was crucified in a place named “the Skull” (Golgotha in Aramaic). In the mid-19th century, several Christian scholars suggested that the rocky escarpment, which can be viewed from the garden, marked the place of the Messiah’s crucifixion. They noted its proximity to a main city gate, its association with executions according to local tradition, and its physical resemblance to a skull.

A sketch of Skull Hill created in 1889 by B. H. Harris. The caption below it reads: THE GREEN HILL, FROM THE CITY WALL; Jeremiah’s Grotto. Public Domain
Skull Hill as seen in 1901 from the northern walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. The Garden Tomb Association

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