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Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem

Palestine
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity
  • Development pressure
  • Tourism pressure
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity
  • Development pressure
  • Tourism pressure
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

To be submitted according to http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244 

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 723,000 from Italy (Emergency Action Plan 1997-1998; Conservation and Management Plan 2006-2010); USD 205,000 from the Government of Sweden for building rehabilitation

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 1 (from 2016-2016)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

In January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents and which notes progress with corrective measures towards the achievement of the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and responds to decisions of the Committee as follows:

  • Repair of the roof trusses and the replacement of the roof coverings and rainwater goods of the Church of the Nativity were completed in April 2016. Further completed works include restoration and consolidation of the narthex cross vaults and the narthex eastern wooden door, restoration of all external stone facades, consolidation of internal wall plastering, wall mosaics, metal doors, and wooden architraves, and installation of the lighting and smoke detection system. Future works include restoration of an additional nineteen columns in the central nave, expected to be completed during 2018, as well as conservation of a mosaic, paintings and stone floors, subject to available funding;
  • As requested by the Committee (Decision 41 COM 7A.42), the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Bethlehem Municipality, The Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Church of the Nativity and the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation have focused efforts to complete the draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property, which was submitted in February 2018 to the World Heritage Centre for review;
  • Progress has been made in finalizing designs and traffic management arrangements to facilitate revival of Star Street and branches, by attracting the inhabitants and the shop owners to reopen and activate abandoned properties;
  • The ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project has been postponed pending completion of the second phase of the ‘Transport and Mobility Master Plan for the Bethlehem Governorate’, expected in 2019. The ‘Manger Square Village’ has been cancelled owing to its potential adverse impact on the property’s authenticity and integrity;

The State Party considers that the four agreed corrective measures have been completed and that the property has achieved the DSCOR, and requests that the property be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The conservation work at the Church of the Nativity and of the narthex is of a high technical standard, but details of the completed works to mosaics, plaster, architraves, and stone pillars, and proposed future works, should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

The need remains for a single synthetic document summarising analysis of the historical research and physical evidence revealed during conservation work, and the conclusions reached regarding the dates of particular building components, the justifications for the decisions made, and the precise work undertaken to minimize interventions to the historic fabric, especially the very earliest fabric. In view of the importance of the Church in relation to the early history of Christianity, a clear understanding of how its fabric relates to this history, and especially which parts are from the 6th century and which reflect later alterations, is crucial.

The integrated CMP submitted by the State Party has been reviewed by ICOMOS and is considered to be well organized and to demonstrate commitment to conservation of the property. However, some revisions and additions are required before the CMP can be finalized, including analysis of all values and attributes of OUV, planned projects and provisions for disaster risk management, in particular risks related to fire.

The proposed revival of Star Street and its branches is welcome, and it would be appropriate for information about this programme to be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies. The postponement of the Manger Square Tunnel and cancellation of the Manger Square Village project are welcome, given their potential impact on the property’s OUV. Should the Manger Square Tunnel project be re-activated, it would require further justification in relation to traffic management and urban mobility, as well as independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) coupled with thorough archaeological investigations.

The DSOCR is close to being achieved, as the roof of the Church of the Nativity has been conserved, and the corrective measures are nearly fully complete. However, the CMP should be completely finalized before the property is considered for removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7A.27
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party on the implementation of high-standard conservation works which have occurred at the Church of the Nativity;
  4. Requests the State Party to submit details of the completed works to mosaics, plaster, architraves, and stone pillars, and proposed future works, including works to a sub-floor mosaic, paintings and stone floors, as well as proposals for the revival of Star Street and its branches, to the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Also reiterates its previous request to the State Party to submit a resume and analysis of all evidence revealed during the conservation work in order that there is a better understanding as to whether any material survives from the 6th century AD and, if not, to provide the dates of the surviving fabric;
  6. Notes that the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project has been postponed and that the ‘Manger Square Village’ has been cancelled and, should the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project proceed and also requests the State Party to prepare an independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and submit this to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in line with the requirements of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible commitments are made;
  7. Commends the State Party for submitting the draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property in February 2018 and requests that it be revised in accordance with the comments and advice provided by ICOMOS, particularly to incorporate analysis of the values of the property, planned projects and provisions for disaster risk management in particular fire hazards;
  8. Also notes that, following finalization of the CMP for the property, it would be appropriate to consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  10. Decides to retain the Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
42 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 42 COM 7A.1)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 42 COM 7A.2)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 42 COM 7A.5)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 42 COM 7A.8)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.45)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 42 COM 7A.9)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.46)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.47)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.48)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.49)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.50)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.51)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 42 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.44)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.40)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 42 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 42 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 42 COM 7A.21)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 42 COM 7A.22)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 42 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 42 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 42 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 42 COM 7A.26)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 42 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 42 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 42 COM 7A.14)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 42 COM 7A.15)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 42 COM 7A.3)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 42 COM 7A.54)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 42 COM 7A.27)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 42 COM 7A.29)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 42 COM 7A.28)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 42 COM 7A.10)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 42 COM 7A.11)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.55)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 42 COM 7A.6)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 42 COM 7A.41)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 42 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 42 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 42 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 42 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 42 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 42 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 42 COM 7A.16)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 42 COM 7A.7)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.56)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.42)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 42 COM 7A.4)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 42 COM 7A.12)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 42 COM 7A.37)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 42 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 42 COM 7A.39)
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.27

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party on the implementation of high-standard conservation works which have occurred at the Church of the Nativity;
  4. Requests the State Party to submit details of the completed works to mosaics, plaster, architraves, and stone pillars, and proposed future works, including works to a sub-floor mosaic, paintings and stone floors, as well as proposals for the revival of Star Street and its branches, to the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Also reiterates its previous request to the State Party to submit a resume and analysis of all evidence revealed during the conservation work in order that there is a better understanding as to whether any material survives from the 6th century AD and, if not, to provide the dates of the surviving fabric;
  6. Notes that the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project has been postponed and that the ‘Manger Square Village’ has been cancelled and, should the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project proceed and also requests the State Party to prepare an independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and submit this to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in line with the requirements of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible commitments are made;
  7. Commends the State Party for submitting the draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property in February 2018 and requests that it be revised in accordance with the comments and advice provided by ICOMOS, particularly to incorporate analysis of the values of the property, planned projects and provisions for disaster risk management in particular fire hazards;
  8. Also notes that, following finalization of the CMP for the property, it would be appropriate to consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  10. Decides to retain the Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2018
Palestine
Date of Inscription: 2012
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2012-2019
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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