On Location pp 131-150 | Cite as

Is Nothing Sacred? A Modernist Encounter with the Holy Sepulchre



The church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today as one of the most bizarre and contradictory buildings to come down to us from the Middle Ages. Marking the defining events of Christianity – Christ’s Crucifixion, Entombment, and Resurrection – the site was monumentalized and celebrated from the early fourth century and onward. The present condition of the church raises challenging questions for the management of tangible and intangible aspects of cultural heritage. Why does such an architecturally awkward building merit preservation? While the architecture may strike us as mediocre, the Holy Sepulchre is preserved today not for its esthetic qualities or its importance to the history of architecture but as a material sign of Christianity’s most important events – that is, what it represents is more important than what it is. However, what the building means and how it should be preserved continue to be hotly contested issues over which the stakeholders find little agreement.


Christian Community Church Building Intangible Aspect Holy Site Central Courtyard 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the History of ArtThe University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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