the holy of holies

holy of holies

A sacred or special place. Although used more generally today, the phrase originally described the sanctuary of the tabernacle in the Temple of Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. When it comes to college basketball, this is sacred ground—the holy of holies.
See also: holy, of

holy of holies

A place of awe or sacredness, as in The corporate board room is the holy of holies here. This expression is a translation of the Hebrew term for the sanctuary inside the tabernacle of the Temple of Jerusalem, where the sacred Ark of the Covenant was kept (Exodus 26:34). Its figurative use dates from the second half of the 1800s.
See also: holy, of

the holy of holies

If you describe something, especially a place, as the holy of holies, you mean that people think it is the most special or important thing of its kind. Last year, his work was performed at the Aldeburgh Festival, the holy of holies in the contemporary British music scene. Note: In a Jewish synagogue, the holy of holies is the inner room which only the chief rabbi may enter.
See also: holy, of

holy of holies

a place or thing regarded as sacrosanct.
The reference here is to the Hebrew phrase for the inner chamber of the sanctuary in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem, separated by a veil from the outer chamber.
See also: holy, of

ˌholy of ˈholies

(humorous) a special place which only particular people can enter: This room is the holy of holies. It contains the most valuable books in the world.The boss invited me into his holy of holies this morning. What a fantastic office he’s got!
In a Jewish temple, the holy of holies is the inner part, which only the chief priest can enter.
See also: holy, of
References in classic literature ?
It seems unable to abide for many seconds together in the holy of holies of the captain's state-room; it will out on deck and gaze ahead, through straining eyes, as the appointed moment comes nearer.
I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.
Ah," he continued with a malicious snarl, "but the Earth man shall suffer for the indignities he has put upon the holy of holies, nor shall any vileness be too vile to inflict upon his princess.
Another day" will do for brick and mortar, but not for the Holy of Holies into which Howards End had been transfigured.
It seemed to him that he had intruded upon the holy of holies, and slowly and carefully he moved his head aside from the contact which thrilled him like an electric shock and of which she had not been aware.
This weekend he'll be in Birmingham for the annual Bricklive show at the NEC, the holy of holies for Lego fans.
For centuries, normative Jewish law had forbidden Jews from ascending the Temple Mount, lest they step accidentally into the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies.
During biblical times, Yom Kippur was the only day that a high priest was allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, known as the Holy of Holies.
The most sacred place in the Hebrew Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies housed the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets on which the Ten Commandments--the divine word--had been inscribed.
As an architect I was particularly drawn to the Holy of Holies, a place to reconnect with one's heart.
The Ark and kapporet were the only objects in the Holy of Holies, and the high priest would enter this inner sanctum only one day a year, on Yom Kippur.
It is located inside the temple which also houses the Holy of Holies.
Only Jesus Christ through his incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection has made it possible for us to enter into the holy of holies and have direct, one to one fellowship with God.
They were originally known as the Featherstone Tales, told by supporters of the Rovers rugby league team on their pilgrimage to the holy of holies at Post Office Road.
LAST week in the Holy of Holies, the House of Commons, Steve Rotheram had his bag pinched from the terrace, despite all the security.