Français

/…

  1. Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2012

Criteria (iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 2012-present

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 Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

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

Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.orgIenhist/1433/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 1 (from 2014-2016)

Total amount approved: USD 30,000

For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions N/A

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)

Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.orgIenhist/1433/ Current conservation issues

On 6 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents. Progress in addressing a number of conservation issues identified by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in the report, as follows:

  • Physical conservation works have been carried out at the property since 2013, including restoration of the roof, the Narthex, joinery, external stone fagades, internal wall plastering, wall mosaics, Basilica doors and architraves, restoration of 46 columns with their paintings, and 8 capitals, floor mosaics, in addition to the installation of lighting and smoke detection systems. Remaining works are progressing according to available funds. The report was accompanied by a chronological construction progress report (2013-2018) and an extensive dossier providing comprehensive documentation of investigations, conservation work and interventions;
  • Although more than 250 samples from the structural wooden elements have been analysed, using dendrochronological and radiocarbon analysis, it has not been possible to reach specific conclusions about interventions made over the centuries. Nevertheless, as much as possible has been conserved of the existing building fabric. All of the internal elements have been treated with extensive care by experienced and specialized conservators;
  • A draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property was submitted to the World Heritage Centre in January 2018. ICOMOS provided comments in its technical review in April 2018. All of the comments have been taken into consideration in the revised draft CMP that has been re-submitted;
  • The proposed tunnel between the Manger Square and the Nativity Square has been cancelled;
  • Ongoing projects include 3D documentation and restoration of the historical and religious centre of the city. They also include the revival of Star Street and its branches to attract inhabitants and shop owners to activate abandoned properties, as a tool to encourage tourism, in addition to a Transport and Mobility Master Plan;
  • The new national cultural heritage legislation (Tangible Cultural Heritage Law) will contribute to the ongoing protection of the property.

Based on the fact that actions required by Committee decisions and the corrective measures to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage Danger (DSOCR) have been substantially completed, the State Party requests the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The conservation work at the Church of the Nativity and its narthex, which has been systematically undertaken since the property was inscribed in the List of World Heritage in Danger, is of a high technical standard. Comprehensive details of the works undertaken have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with the Committee’s request. This documentation includes analysis of the historical research and physical evidence revealed during the conservation work and conclusions regarding the dates of particular building components, as well as the techniques used to minimize intervention to existing fabric. It is recognized that the building has been much altered over the centuries and that, despite extensive investigations, it is not possible to reach specific conclusions about the chronology of the extant fabric and specific interventions over time.

The integrated Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is well organized and demonstrates commitment to conserving the property. The revisions and additions requested by ICOMOS, including analysis of the values and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), planned projects, and provisions for disaster risk management with risks related to fire, have all been made. The revised CMP has been submitted by the State Party, and accordingly, comments shall be provided by ICOMOS as necessary.

The cancellation of the Manger Square Village Tunnel project is welcome.

ICOMOS has provided a technical review of the information submitted by the State Party regarding the Star Street revival. While noting that the programme is welcome, as it addresses the overall urban management of Bethlehem’s Old City Centre, the technical review expresses some concerns and provides specific recommendations about implementation of the proposed works.

The DSOCR has been achieved because the roof of the Church of the Nativity has been conserved and the corrective measures are now complete. It is therefore recommended that the Committee consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.28

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.27, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Reiterates its previous commendation of the State Party on the implementation of the high-standard conservation works that have occurred at the Church of the Nativity, and notes that the State Party has submitted comprehensive details of investigations and conservation works;
  4. Commends the State Party for submitting the revised Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property, which has been amended in accordance with the comments and advice provided by ICOMOS;
  5. Also notes that the Manger Square Tunnel project has been cancelled;
  6. Requests the State Party to address the recommendations of the ICOMOS technical review of the programme for revival and activation of Star Street and its branches;
  7. Encourages the State Party to use the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach to integrate the Conservation Management Plan with the Masterplan for city development;
  8. Further notes that the corrective measures are now completed, and the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage Danger has been achieved;
  9. Decides to remove Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.

/…