With the 36th annual session of the World Heritage Committee still in progress in St Petersburg, ‘The Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem, Palestine’ has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of protected sites. The new entry also includes nearby Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan, and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
Lying 10km outside Jerusalem, Christian tradition has identified the site as the birthplace of Jesus since the 2nd century AD. A church was first built there in AD 339, and the structure that replaced it following a fire in the 6th century still retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original building.
The entry for Rabat includes the new town built under the French Protectorate from 1912 to the 1930s, one of the largest and most ambitious modern urban projects built in Africa in the 20th century and, according to UNESCO, the most complete – including royal and administrative areas, residential and commercial developments and the Jardins d’Essais botanical and pleasure gardens. The protected area also encompasses older parts of the city dating back to the 12th century such as Hassan Mosque (started in 1184).
The Committee will remain in session until 6 July, and further World Heritage Sites are expected to be announced over the weekend.