Under Turkish domination

Maestro Boucicaut

In 1517 the center of power in the Islamic world shifted from the Mameluke dynasty in Egypt to the Ottomans in Turkey. The Sultan, who resided in Constantinople, favored the Greek Orthodox Church, and this led to a great deal of friction between the Greeks and the Latins. An earthquake in 1545 caused the collapse of part of the bell tower. Money and palace intrigues transformed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre into a trophy to be given to whoever offered the most.

Between 1630 and 1637 several parts of the Church changed hands more than six times. In 1644, the Georgians, unable to maintain the required tax payments, left the church, and shortly thereafter, the Ethiopians also departed. The Franciscans managed to acquire areas that had been abandoned by the other religious communities. In 1719, after long negotiations, the Franciscans began to restore the dome of the Anastasis.
Due to their fear that the works would be interrupted senselessly before completion, more than 500 workers were employed, watched over by 300 soldiers. The dome and the tympanum were redone with blind windows, but the mosaics, which had been too badly damaged, were lost. The Armenians repaired the staircase to the Chapel of St. Helena, and the Greeks tore down the unsafe levels of the bell tower. The Edicule was restored in 1728.

A decree of the Sultan in 1757 assigned to the Greeks ownership of the churches at Bethlehem, the Tomb of the Virgin, and, jointly with the Latins, of parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Since that time there have been no further substantial modifications in the ownership of the Holy Places.

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