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Golgotha/Calvary - The Crucifixion Location of Jesus Christ Jerusalem

The hill where Jesus was crucified outside the Jerusalem city walls is known as the Golgotha. Golgotha, which means "Place of the Skull" in Greek and Calvary in Latin, is the name of this location. All 4 canonical Gospels including Mark, Matthew, John, and Luke mention it. In 324 AD, the Roman Empress Helena and Her Son Constantine discovered the location.

 

 About the Golgotha or Calvary in Jerusalem Old City

 

  

For pilgrims and tourists traveling to the Holy Land, The Golgotha Hill, also known as Calvary, stands as one of the most sacred destinations in Jerusalem Old City and one of the highlights of their journey. This biblical site, mentioned in the Gospels as the place of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, has been revered for nearly two millennia. Though the passing of almost 2000 years has transformed its terrain, the actual location of Golgotha remains preserved within the sacred walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City Christian quarter. Today, the Golgotha is one of the 30 chapels in the 4th-century Byzantine-Crusade church complex. The 12th Station of the Cross is the Calvary, marking the crucifixion itself, and is among the 14 Stations that trace the final footsteps and events of Christ's life on Earth. Visiting Golgotha allows modern-day believers to experience and worship a profound spiritual connection to the biblical narrative.

Golgotha in the New Testament Mark 15:22-32

 

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”

In the same way, the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

What is the Meaning of Golgotha?

 

visit the golgotha hill station 12

  

Golgotha in Jerusalem is translated from Hebrew as a skull and originated from the Hebrew word "Golgolet", in Aramaic Calvary, and in Latin, it means a Skull as well. The word Golgotha is mentioned in the Old Testament and all 4 gospels of the New Testament. Perhaps it was also named Golgotha or the place of the skull since the shape of the crucifixion hill looks like a skull. 

The roots again start from the Jewish tradition, Jews believe that the skull of the first man Adam was actually found here, later on, passed down by Noah to his son Shem and then to Melchizedek, who deposited the skull at the foot of Golgotha. The Golgotha today is located next to the same place where Abraham brought Issac as a sacrifice to god and next to stations 10 and 11 of the cross.

Short History of the Golgotha

 

the history of golgotha

 

The admiration for Golgotha as Christ's crucifixion site dates back to the early Roman-Byzantine period, after the trial of Pontius Pilate and after Jesus was crucified by the Roman Soldiers. In 325 AD, St Helena, the mother of the Great Roman Emperor Constantine, identified biblical locations now consecrated within the Holy Sepulchre Church, including Christ's tomb, the anointing Stone, and the Golgotha, the crucifixion hill identified thanks to a local tour guide... Driven by this discovery, Constantine ordered the construction of the Sepulchre Church, erecting it atop the razed remains of a pagan temple that previously occupied the site. 

However, the Byzantine emperor's grand basilica endured a stormy fate – it fell to the Persian invasion in 614 AD. The Persians stole the original cross on which lord Jesus Christ was crucified, later on, the Byzantine Empire returned for a short period together with the original cross before succumbing to another assault under Muslim rule in 1009. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre we face today owes its principal design to the comprehensive Byzantine-Crusader-led reconstruction efforts, in one word Eclectica!, but still the Holy grounds of Golgotha remained as previously.

Was Christ Crucified on the Golgotha?

 

jesus crucified on the golgotha

 

The identification of Golgotha in Jerusalem as the site of Jesus death and crucifixion holds deep roots tracing back to the earliest Roman Empire times and further. Accounts from pioneering pilgrims to the Holy Land, such as the 4th century Egeria, reinforced the sanctity of this exact location. This evidence, coupled with the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 326 AD to enshrine Golgotha, underscores the long-held belief that this was the very spot of Christ's death on the cross. 

Biblical scholars widely accept the possibility that the venerated Golgotha rests on the authentic grounds where the crucifixion occurred. At the time of Jesus' execution, Roman and Jewish customs mandated that crucifixions take place outside the city walls - a criterion Golgotha's location would have satisfied. Subsequent expansion of Jerusalem's boundaries in later centuries ultimately swallowed Golgotha within the Old City's walls.

The Gospel accounts harden the connection, John 19:17 specifically referring to "The Place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha." This scriptural reference, combined with the archaeological evidence and centuries of oral Christian tradition, renders a compelling case that modern visitors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre truly stand at Christianity's most hallowed ground.

Here's What the 4th-Century Pilgrim Egeria Wrote About Golgotha in Her Accounts

 

Pilgrim Egeria Wrote About Golgotha in Her Accounts

 

"On the same place [Church of the Holy Sepulchre] is also seen the rock which once stood in front of the monument [Christ's tomb], with a cleft in it, which they say was caused by the enormous earthquake that occurred when the Lord hung on the cross...

On that mount is now erected the great church, built in a round form, which contains within its walls of enclosure the rock which once stood outside, in front of the monument, near the place of the Lord's Passion.

The top of that rock now stands inside the church's walls, being that rock from which, at the time of the Lord's Passion, water and blood came forth after his side was pierced by the soldier's spear...

The rock itself appears to be small, a reddish color, with a great rent through its top surface, which certainly proves that at the Lord's death, not only did the dead rise but even insensate things were shaken and moved at that amazing occurrence."

Egeria's vivid first-hand description provides key evidence that the Church was constructed around the sites of Golgotha and the tomb, which she refers to as the "Lord's Passion" and "monument." Her accounts of the rent, reddish rock match the traditional identification of Golgotha as the Place of the Skull.

Where is the Real Golgotha?

 

There is an ongoing debate among biblical scholars and archaeologists about the true location of the biblical Golgotha in Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified. Here are the two theories.

1) The Traditional Site - Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This is the most widely accepted and traditional location of Golgotha by almost all Christian Denominations.

The rocky outcrop and the Skull Hill are venerated as Golgotha or Calvary within its walls. This matches the scriptural references of it being outside the city walls at the time of the crucifixion. Archaeological excavations have also uncovered tombs from that era nearby. This traditional location has been accepted by most Christian traditions and Biblical Accounts for centuries.

2) The Garden Tomb 

Some scholars and Archeologists such as General Charles Gordon, propose an alternative site about 1,000 feet north of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the real Golgotha. This is based on its location outside the city at that time and topography resembling a skull-like appearance, fitting the Aramaic meaning "Place of the Skull." Followers argue the evidence at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and claim it is not conclusive. However, this "Garden Tomb" site lacks the historical attestations of early pilgrims like Egeria.

In the absence of definitive archaeological proof, most scholars and Christian authorities continue to favor the Church of the Holy Sepulchre location as the likeliest site of Jesus' crucifixion at Golgotha based on the balance of biblical narratives, historical sources, and plausible grounds. But the Garden Tomb association cannot be completely ruled out either. Ultimately, the true location of Golgotha may never be known with complete certainty.

What is the Difference Between Golgotha and Calvary?

 

Golgotha and Calvary refer to the same biblical location, but the words come from different languages:

Golgotha is the Aramaic name meaning "Place of the Skull." This is the name used in the original Greek texts of the Gospels to identify the site of Jesus crucifixion outside of ancient Jerusalem's walls.

Calvary is the Latin translation of the Aramaic Golgotha. It stems from the Latin word "Calvaria" which also means "Skull."

Visiting Golgotha Jerusalem Today

 

Visiting Golgotha Today

 

When entering the Sepulchre Church, pilgrims can find the Chapel of Golgotha to the right, just take the stairs to the right and go up. A steep flight of stone stairs ascends 5 meters to the venerated "hill" of Calvary where Christ was crucified. At the summit are two chapels - the Catholic Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Greek Orthodox Chapel of the Crucifixion. The space is adorned with marble, mosaics, icons, and ornate religious decor, reflecting the sacred nature of this site within the church complex. Here you can approach and touch the Golgotha, just stand on your knees and reach your hand to the bottom of the Altar.

The Greek Orthodox altar at Golgotha's summit marks the hallowed ground where Christ's cross stood. Below, an aperture allows pilgrims to touch the fissured bedrock that supported the crucifixion cross. If you wish to avoid the queue you can see the Golgotha below the Glass of the 12th station, or go down to the first level to see the Chapel of Adam containing the Golgotha.

In conclusion, according to the Christian faith, the main events of the holy week of the lord including Jesus' walk of the Via Dolorosa, discussions on the Temple Mount, the Last Supper on Mount Zion, the resurrection,  the Anointing Stone, and most importantly the Crucifixion, take place in Old Jerusalem. So never skip a visit to the holy sites mentioned above.

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SLAVA BAZARSKY
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