The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is wrapped in scaffolding this Christmas as it gets its first renovation in over half a millennium.
Despite the scaffolding across the façade of the building, the church
itself is still open for visits from the thousands of pilgrims who
descend on the birthplace of Jesus during the festive season.
The work has been made necessary by water leaking in through the roof
that is threatening to damage the church's mosaics and other
"The water also has a bad effect on the plastering surfaces, on the
mosaics, on the floors, on the frescoes. It could damage any, any
historical elements inside the church," said Afif Tweme, of Palestinian
engineering consultants, the Community Development Group, according to a
report by The Associated Press.
Parts of the Church of the Nativity go back 1,500 years but the
restoration of the roof in 1478 was one of the last major works to be
carried out on the building.
The Palestinian Authority has stumped up £1 million towards the cost
of the refurbishment.
AP reports that an additional $800,000 is coming
from the private sector.
Phase one of the project is expected to last around a year, and will
see the damaged roof and windows repaired. After that, work will be done
on other parts of the interior, as well as the exterior façade.
Giammarco Piacenti, who is overseeing the work, was quoted by AP as
saying: "We'll save as many parts, even those in bad conditions, as we
"We'll only replace pieces that are no longer functional and can no
longer help hold the roof. They will be as few as possible and will be
made of a compatible wood, of aged wood of the same type and quality."