Chapel of Adam
Steps lead down the north side to the Chapel of Adam (Greek Orthodox), in which there is also a cleft in the rock. The chapel gets its name from the legend that Adam's skull was found under the Cross at Christ's crucifixion. On either side of the entrance are stone benches marking the site of the tombs of the first two rulers of the Crusader kingdom, Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin I. Their remains were removed by Muslims in the 13th century, and the tombs themselves were broken up by fanatical Greek monks in 1808.
The appearance of the tombs is known from drawings made before their destruction: low columns supported saddle roofs which bore Latin inscriptions, which also were recorded. One of them read (according to Zev Vilnay): "Here lies the famous Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, who won this whole country for the Christian faith. May his soul rest in Christ. Amen." The other read: "Here lies King Baldwin, a second Judas Maccabeus, the hope of his country, the pride of the Church and its strength. Arabia and Egypt, Dan and overweening Damascus feared his power and humbly brought him gifts and tribute. Alas! This poor sarcophagus covers him." Rotunda,
Going west from here, we pass the Stone of Unction, on which Christ's body was laid and anointed after his crucifixion (John 19,38-40), and the Place of the Three Marys (Armenian), from which the holy women watched the anointing, and come to the Rotunda containing the Holy Sepulcher. The exterior of the Rotunda was rebuilt after the 1808 fire by Kalfa Komnenos, a Greek from Smyrna, in the overcharged style of Turkish Rococo. In front of the entrance are huge candelabra, and over the doorway hang 43 lamps (thirteen each belonging to the Greeks, Latins and Armenians and four to the Copts). The structure of the tomb conceals the natural rock, which can be seen only in the Coptic chapel to the rear of the sepulcher. In an antechamber, the Angel's Chapel, is a stone on which the angel who announced the resurrection of Christ to the holy women is said to have sat. It is probably a remnant of the round stone which closed the mouth of the sepulcher and was rolled away by the angel. A low door leads into the small tomb chamber, along the right-hand wall of which is a marble slab marking the empty burial-place. Apart from the marble cladding, this is a tomb similar to many others dating from the time of Christ, closed by a round stone like a millstone whose diameter determined the height of the entrance. During the night before Easter Day the Holy Sepulcher is the scene of a ceremony in which the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the Angel's Chapel, which has been closed since Good Friday, and lights the "holy fire" - a light from the darkness of the tomb which symbolizes the Resurrection.
Chapel of the Jacobites
On the south, west and north sides of the Rotunda are semicircular conches. In the west conch, opposite the Coptic Chapel, is a chapel of the Syrian Christians (Jacobites), in which, on the left, is the entrance to a rock-cut tomb. It is traditionally ascribed to Joseph of Arimathea, who also provided the tomb for Christ (Matthew 27,60). It is still in its original condition, without marble cladding.
The northern part of the Rotunda belongs to the Latins. Here are a chapel of the Franciscans, whose friary is immediately adjoining, and the Altar of Mary Magdalene. In the northern aisle are a number of columns of different periods, including richly decorated Corinthian columns from the original fourth century church. These are known as the Arches of the Virgin, because the risen Christ is said to have appeared to his Mother here. At the east end of the aisle is a small square chamber known, without any historical basis, as the Prison of Christ.
St Helen's Chapel
At the east end of the nave is a semicircular passage or ambulatory which runs past the Chapel of Longinus and the Chapel of the Parting of the Raiment to a flight of steps leading down to St Helen's Chapel (Armenian). In the rock face on the right are small crosses incised by pilgrims of the Crusader period. The chapel is roughly square, with four short columns of the Byzantine period carrying the high arches of the roof structure. Through the dome light falls from above into the large central square, giving the chapel its own special atmosphere, which is enhanced by the lamps, the decorative fabrics and the altar. To the right of the principal apse is a recess from which Helen is said to have watched the bringing to light of the Roman cistern in which the True Cross was found.
Chapel of the Invention of the Cross
A further flight of steps leads down to the former cistern, now the plain little Chapel of the Invention of the Cross (Roman Catholic), its walls still showing signs of its original function. The statue of St Helen and the altar were gifted by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, the future ill-fated Emperor of Mexico.