According to Christian tradition, the 1,600-year-old Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is located on the birthplace of Jesus, and is therefore one of the holiest sites in the world. Now, after two years of renovation work, the church has had a face-lift.
The renovation efforts were headed up by Palestinian and international experts, with President Mahmoud Abbas himself being actively involved. Despite the fact that most Palestinians within Palestine are Muslim, the nation holds the site in high regard, considering it a national treasure—and a valuable tourist attraction, of course.
It is the biggest restoration of the church in 600 years. It was built by Saint Helena in the fourth century AD, and is believed to be located on the site where Jesus was born in the nativity story.
Ziad al-Bandak, the man in charge of the Palestinian committee overseeing the restoration, described how the work has improved the site.
“For the first time you can see, when you go up, mosaics really magnificent and beautiful and unique in the whole world,” he said.
He noted that $8 million had been spent saving the church, which had been listed as “endangered” by UNESCO, the cultural department of the United Nations.
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