Church of St. John the Baptist

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The Church of St. John the Baptist is one of the most prominent landmarks at Jerusalem city. This structure is really easy to spot because of its  neer Ein Kerem the Church of St. John the Baptist promising silver dome structure. This church is situated at the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem city. It is often mistaken and confused with the Franciscan Church which is situated on the Mount of Olives.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is the oldest church situated in Jerusalem and thus deserves seeking out. It is well known because it is the original “Hospital of St. John”. This church was founded and constructed in the 5th century. It is believed that this church was constructed because of the existence of several relics of John the Baptist. In the 4the century, the relics were however, sent to various other cities along with Jerusalem city.
In the 14th century, Nicolas – the pilgrim of Poggibonsi – mentioned for the first time that this site belonged to the father of John and James. It was known as the house of Zebedee. The identification of the site was actually arisen from a confusion between John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.
Though the Church of St. John the Baptist was destroyed by the Persians, the Patriarch of Alexandria restored and reconstructed it in the year 614. During the 11th century the Church was re constructed extensively over its actual existing foundations. It was then about a thousand years the Church had remained unaltered.
The modern day Church of St. John the Baptist was constructed by the merchants from Amalfi. The Knight Hospitallers had their headquarters in the church then. In 1187, the crypt of the church was abandoned and left with debris followed by the use of the present day church. The modern day upper church was most probably under the use of the priests of Greek Orthodox.
The church had lost its ownership during the 16th century but very soon the Greek owned it back. A large hospice for the pilgrims to the Church of St. John the Baptist was constructed next to the church in the year of 1660. In the 19th century the debris from the crypt got cleared which led to the discovery of an exquisite reliquary in the altar’s masonry. This is now located at the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Museum. Various magnificent fragments of architecture have been discovered which belongs to the Crusader and the Byzantine eras.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is located at a pleasant place with a small courtyard surrounded by trees. A modern day Greek Orthodox monastery is situated next to the church. The priests are responsible to open the church. Though certain changes have been made in the renovation of the church, the actual plan of the original 5th century construction has still been kept evident even today. A stretched narthex and three apses give it the shape of a trefoil. The dome of the church is supported by four consecutive pillars and has a silver painting along the exterior. As it gradually descends along the narthex, the crypt is found about 6.5 metre below the level of the ground.

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