The Immovable Ladder
The ladder was apparently placed at its specific position in the 18th century so the Armenians could enter the second floor of the church and so avoid paying an entry fee. The earliest record of this ladder is an engraving from 1728, and the earliest mention of it is an Ottoman document from 1757. After the affairs in the Church of Nativity (that among others caused the Crimean war) in 1851 the Ottoman issued a detailed document (Firman) that declared the custody of each denomination in the church and regulated the schedules of the various processions. Known as the “Status Quo” document, it is firmly followed to this day.
The ladder is a symbol to the tension between the different denomination that co-run the Church.
And then the ladder moved
There is a common saying in the Middle East that to every rule there is an exception, and the ladder is no exception. On a few rare occasions the ladder was recorded to be moved, for a short time. The last of time was recorded by Danny “the Digger”, in February 2009.
Tracking the Immovable Ladder
The ladder can be easily tracked, above the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Ironically it is not the only ladder with movement restrictions in this complex.
For a full appreciation of this delicate religio-political issue, we recommend booking a tour, such as a day tour of Jerusalem’s old city highlights.