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Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a Christian Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is believed to be on the site of the Crucifixion[?], Burial[?], and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therefore a focus of pilgrimage and veneration for Christians.

The initial building was founded by Constantine I of the Roman Empire in 335, after he had removed a Roman temple on the site that was possibly the Temple of Aphrodite built by Hadrian. Constantine had sent his mother Helena to find the site; during excavations she is said to have discovered the True Cross. The church was built around the excavated hill of the Crucifixion, and was actually three connected churches built over the three different holy sites.

This building was damaged by fire in 614 when the Persians invaded Jerusalem. Under the Muslims it remained a Christian church, but the original building was completely destroyed on October 18, 1009, by the "mad" Fatimid caliph al-Hakim[?].

However, the foundation was retained, and the church was rebuilt by Constantine IX Monomachos in 1048. The rebuilt church was taken by the knights of the First Crusade on July 15, 1099. The Crusaders began to renovate the church in a Romanesque style and added a bell tower. These renovations were completed during the reign of Queen Melisende 50 years later in 1149.

The Franciscan monks renovated it further in 1555, as it had been neglected despite increased numbers of pilgrims. A fire severely damaged the structure again in 1808, causing the dome to collapse. The current dome dates from 1870. Extensive modern renovations began in 1959, including a redecoration of the dome from 1994-1997.

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