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Church of the Nativity facts for kids

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Birthplace of Jesus: the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem *
Birthplace of Jesus.jpg
The Altar of the Nativity, which marks the spot where tradition says the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.
Country Palestine
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv, vi
Reference 1433
Region ** Western Asia
Inscription history
Inscription 2012 (36th Session)
  • Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
    ** Region as classified by UNESCO

The Church of the Nativity in a church in Bethlehem. It is one of the oldest churches in the world. It is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus. It is considered very sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The main basilica is maintained by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. Underneath the building is a cave or grotto. It is where Jesus is said to have been born. On Christmas Eve, crowds gather to sing Christmas carols outside the church in an area called Manger Square. The crowds also go to celebrate midnight mass at the Church of Saint Catherine, a Roman Catholic church next door to the basilica. It is performed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Preservation and related concerns

The basilica was placed on the 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund: The present state of the church is worrying. Many roof timbers are rotting, and have not been replaced since the 19th century. The rainwater that seeps into the building not only accelerates the rotting of the wood and damages the structural integrity of the building, but also damages the 12th-century wall mosaics and paintings. The influx of water also means that there is an ever-present chance of an electrical fire.

The Palestinian government started restoring the buildings in 2010. It was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in June 2012. It is the first World Heritage Site listed under Palestine.

The initial phase of the restoration work was completed in early 2016. The project is partially funded by Palestinians and conducted by a team of Palestinian and international experts. New windows have been installed, structural repairs on the roof have been completed and art works and mosaics have been cleaned and restored. Although overwhelmingly Muslim, Palestinians consider the church a national treasure and one of their most visited tourist sites.

In July 2016, Italian restoration workers uncovered a seventh mosaic angel in the Church of the Nativity which was previously hidden under plaster. The seventh angel was discovered by Silvia Starinieri Piacenti using a thermography technique that scans solid surfaces in the search for works hidden underneath them.

The structure of the site of the Church of the Nativity is a combination of two churches and a crypt beneath—the Grotto of the Nativity where tradition states that Jesus of Nazareth was born.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Basílica de la Natividad para niños

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