The destruction of al-Hakim

Columns from the Constantinian Basilica buried under the floor of the Basilica after the destruction

In 1009 the fanatic Egyptian Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah gave explicit orders to destroy the churches in Palestine, Egypt and Syria, and above all the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as recounted by the historian Yahya ibn Sa'id.



The destruction of the sanctuary was virtually complete, including the demolition of the church of Calvary and of what remained of the structure of the Martyrium, and the complete dismantling of the Edicule of the Tomb. All of the furnishings and equipment were either destroyed or stolen. The devastating fury was brought to a halt only by the sturdiness of the Constantinian structures of the Anastasis, which were saved in part due to their having been submerged beneath the debris of the destruction.



Reconstruction was able to begin several years later, but the overall complexity of the Constantinian design was lost forever. The Rotunda of the Anastasis now became the center of the church, and is the only basilica mentioned in subsequent historical sources.

The restoration, undertaken by the Byzantine imperial government, was completed in 1048 during the reign of Emperor Constantine Monomachus.


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