In the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the Terra Sancta Museum (Museum of Holy Land) which preserves the archaeological heritage of Christianity in the Holy Land. The museum treasures have been protected by the Franciscans for over 800 years.
The museum’s multimedia and archaeological sections can be found in the Monastery of the Flagellation along the Via Dolorosa. In 2023, a third section is planned which will be housed in the Monastery of St. Savior. This section will exhibit pieces donated to the church by European royal families over the years.
Since their arrival in the Holy Land in the 14th-century, the Franciscans have developed various Christian sites. They have also been involved in a number of archaeological digs that have produced a collection of antiquities. Their collection presented in the Terra Sancta Museum takes visitors through Christian history using the archaeological findings.
The artifacts are displayed in six ancient rooms which themselves have been excavated. The museum is housed in authentic archaeological surroundings including a Byzantine cistern, Herodian rooms, Mamluk structures, and Crusader remains. On display in these ancient rooms are frescoes, ceramics, sarcophagi, lamps, coins, and mosaics.
A second wing of the museum takes visitors through the important events in Jesus’ life. The displays tell the story of daily life in the New Testament era. In addition, there is a collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Jordan.
Visitors to the museums can see a 15-minute audio-visual presentation covering the history of Jerusalem from the biblical era, through the reign of Herod, the first pilgrims to Jerusalem, and the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent to the present day. The presentation uses creative digital animation and has a lively narration available in nine languages.