The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
The Secrets Under the Church of the Redeemer
Location - The Old City of Jerusalem
Map Coordinates - 31.777846, 35.230419
The Church of the Redeemer is a German protestant church, the newest church in the Old City of Jerusalem, and one of only two protestant churches in this area. It is located right next to the current church of the Holy Sepulcher, and it sits on the site of the original and much larger Church of the Holy Sepulcher compound that was built by Constantine in 326 AD. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was completed in 1898 AD.
The Church of the Redeemer currently houses Lutheran congregations that worship in Arabic, German, Danish, and English.
The seven-story bell tower is the tallest bell tower in the city, with a 178-step climb to the top. However, the 360° views of the city from the top are worth the effort to get there. Walk slowly, becuase the constant turning will make you dizzy, as it did me.
The bell tower at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer stands on the northeast corner of a complex of streets called the Muristan (a name derived from the Persian word for hospital). In Crusader times, the Muristan was the location of a hospital where the medieval Order of Saint John was established to care for sick and wounded soldiers. Remains of this hospital are located in the crypt at the nearby Church of Saint John.
What I find most interesting about this church are the archeological ruins underneath. There is a very deep pit (131 feet) where, at the bottom, we can see geometrically-cut rocks, indicating that this area used to be a quarry that provided the stones for many of Jerusalem’s building projects. There are also layers in this pit that prove that after the quarry was abandoned, fill dirt was brought in, and a garden was established for growing produce. This garden is referenced in the Gospel of John (19:41), and it is the only physical proof in Jerusalem that there was, in fact, a garden in this area. The first-century historian, Flavius Josephus, even refers to a first-century gate to this garden, which he calls the “garden gate” (Jewish Wars 5.146).
The 131-foot pit in the ruins under the church. You can see geometric cuts in the stones at the bottom. My feet and light are visible on the left side of this photo.
Excavations under the church also prove that the hill where Jesus was crucified, did, in fact, exist outside the first-century city walls of Jerusalem.