Since as early as the 2nd or 3rd century AD the site of the Church of St. Anne, just inside St. Stephen’s Gate to the north of the Temple Mount, has been regarded as the birthplace of the Virgin Mary, the home of her parents Anne and Joachim. In the 4th century a basilica to St. Mary was erected here, probably by the Empress Eudoxia.
Toward the end of the 11th century the Crusaders built a small chapel over the fifth century ruins. This they extensively rebuilt in 1140. St. Anne’s is recognized by many as the jewel among all the churches the Crusaders built in the city.
The building is not symmetrical, suggesting it lies over the foundations of one of the earlier churches, part of which can still be seen in the crypt.
After the Crusaders lost Jerusalem, Saladin turned St. Anne’s into a Moslem theological seminary which saved it from destruction.
But afterwards, it fell into ruin until the late 19th century when worship there was reinstated.
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