Protestant tradition locates these events two hundred fifty yards (228.6 m) northeast of today’s Damascus Gate (roughly one thousand yards or 914.4 meters from the area of Herod’s palace). A portion of the bedrock rises abruptly in that area, forming a hill that provides a nice view of the surrounding landscape. Several shallow caves in the face of the rock give the appearance of eyes sockets and a nose cavity, and when viewed at a certain angle the rocky escarpment is thought to resemble a skull. According to this tradition it is on top of this knoll, popularly called “Skull Hill,” that Jesus was crucified. Below the hill just to the west is a two-chambered tomb identified as the burial place of Jesus. In the front of the cave is a channel cut into the bedrock that is thought to be the track for a rolling stone. Because John says the burial compound was in a garden (John 19:41), the site today is called the Garden Tomb.
This cave was first equated with Jesus’ tomb in 1842 by a German scholar named Otto Thenius. However, this identification received little attention for the next forty years, although the cave was excavated by Conrad Schick in 1867.7 In 1881 Charles Conder also located Jesus’ crucifixion on the round knoll north of Jerusalem, but identified another cave, further to the west, as the possible tomb of Jesus. Although Conder was an important figure in the history of the rediscovery of the Holy Land, the area was popularized by Charles Gordon, who stayed in Palestine from January of 1883 to January of 1884. Gordon was a deeply religious individual whose faith and character had a powerful influence on Protestants in England. In the words of Franzman and Kark, “Something about Gordon rang true to the English public.” His connection of the site to Golgotha eventually led to the establishment of the Garden Tomb Association in 1893, and finally to the purchase of the land in 1894.10 Today, the property is still managed by the Garden Tomb Association, and the quiet, peaceful grounds are a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.
Located in the heart of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has for 1700 years commemorated the location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. The site of the crucifixion is found to one’s immediate right after entering the church. Although first-time visitors sometimes have difficulty visualizing this, the steps leading up to the Latin chapel on the right follow the natural topography of the bedrock. The traditional location of Calvary, therefore, is on a rock outcropping rising up inside the church. Visitors to the site today can reach their hand through a hole beneath the Greek altar and touch the rock. The tomb of Christ is located further inside the church to the left. In the center of the rotunda (the large circular room) sits a large wooden monument; the traditional tomb of Christ lies in the bedrock below.
Foreman, B. A. (2016). Locating Jesus’ Crucifixion and Burial. In B. J. Beitzel & K. A. Lyle (Eds.), Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels (p. 508). Lexham Press.