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The Immovable Ladder: Bizarre Conflict Restrains Ladder To Be Moved For 3 Centuries

The Immovable Ladder looks like an everyday wooden ladder. However, it has an unusual history.  Located under the window of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, it remained there solid for almost three centuries.

The big value of the Immovable Ladder connects with the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as the Eastern Churches in the Christian faith.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre-Jerusalem.

So many unsolved mysteries revolving around The Immovable Ladder

The stairway leans on a ridge under one of the windows, outside the church on the second-floor wall. The whole history behind it is rather obscure. Nobody knows when it appeared there, what was the purpose and who set it.

Some references say the ladder was made in early 1757, however, there is no accurate confirmation.

The church’s images and engravings from the middle of the 1850s illustrate the Immovable Ladder. Hence, by then, the ladder already existed and caused wondering without reasonable explanations.

A picture of the Church from 1881-84 depicting the ladder

In 1852/3, the Ottoman Sultan, Abdülmecid I, wrote a firman, dividing this church between the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Moreover, three other churches – the Coptic, the Syrian and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church also took some parts of the church.

According to one account, the ladder was placed in the moment of the firman’s release. The ladder was ‘Immovable’, because neither of the churches could move it without the agreement of the other five.

If the ladder moves it will raise conflicts

On the other hand, the Immovable Ladder could symbolize Christian integration. According to this story, the ladder might mean the Holy Sepulchre does not apply to one specific Christian religious group but rather to all of Christendom.

This interpretation, however, didn’t reduce the pressure among the caretakers of the church. On the contrary, there were many times where it ended up in loud acts of violence.

For instance, in 2008, Israeli police intervened a violent disagreement between monks from the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Churches.

You probably realized by now, the steadiness of the ladder is more symbolic than practical. People have moved it several times in the past.

In 2009, the ladder was moved from the right to the left window. One source claimed this action happened in order to clean the area.

Another source claims the ladder moved so that the scaffolding necessary to complete the repairs could be taken away.

The ladder was also moved in 1997, when allegedly, a rude tourist took it and hid it behind an altar. As the tightness between the churches grew bigger, the ladder was ultimately set back to its original state right after.

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