- Title: Church of the Nativity removed from UNESCO's world heritage in danger list
- Date: 11th July 2019
- Summary: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (FILE) (REUTERS) RENOVATIONS UNDERWAY AS TOURISTS TOUR CHURCH VARIOUS OF EXPERTS WORKING ON MOSAICS
- Embargoed: 25th July 2019 16:58
- Keywords: Church of Nativity Wolrd Heritage Site World Heritage in Danger UNESCO Bethlehem Palestinians
- Location: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- City: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA002ANC4YMT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The UNESCO has removed the ancient Church of the Nativity, revered as the birth place of Jesus, from its list of world heritage in danger sites, after having undergone restoration work since 2012.
The church was listed as a world heritage site in 2012 and was simultaneously placed in UNESCO's list of world heritage in danger, mainly due to a leakage in its ceiling.
The announcement came as part of a UNESCO meeting last week. The church's external facades, mosaics and doors have also undergone restoration, the organisation said.
"With this procedure and preparing the drainage system and changing all the 48 upper windows, we succeeded to secure the church for the coming 500 years from now on," said Ziad al-Bandak, a Palestinian official overseeing the restoration process.
Nearly 85 percent of the restoration process is completed, he added.
In a statement, the world heritage committee also welcomed the "shelving of a project to dig a tunnel under Manger Square and the adoption of a management plan for the conservation of the site".
In its request to remove the church from the list of endangered sites, the Palestinian authority said restoration included the ceiling, the narthex, and a short section of the Pilgrimage Route, the path which tradition says Joseph and Mary took into the city in their trek from Nazareth 2,000 years ago.
This is said to be the first comprehensive renovation of the church since it was completed 1,700 years ago.
The church, which draws millions of visitors annually, was built on the site where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger. Around 2 million tourists visit the church annually.
The UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership in 2012 and since then it has inscribed three world heritage sites located in the Palestinian territories. In addition to the Church of the Nativity, the world heritage site list included the ancient agricultural terraces of Battir, Hebron's old town with the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque.
(Production: Mohmmed Abu Ganeyeh, Roleen Tafakji, Suheir Sheikh)
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