Visita Betania

Bethany. The Palestinian Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Jerusalem visit to the project

Giacomo Pizzi2 March 2020

A very welcome visit to the Bethany archeological site by the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquity Rula Maayah and the Minister of Jerusalem Fadi al-Hadami. The representatives of the Palestinian Authority, who came to Bethany for a meeting on the promotion of tourism in the Palestinian Territories, saw the restoration work carried out in the area around the Lazarus Tomb by the Mosaic Center in collaboration with the Association pro Terra Sancta.

The whole delegation listened to the explanations of the architect Osama Hamdan, director of the Mosaic Center and head of the works. The tourism minister congratulated the redevelopment work carried out so far. Since 2013, Associazione Pro Terra Sancta and Mosaic Center have been working on the recovery of the area (as explained here) around the sanctuary of the Custody of the Holy Land thanks to projects funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and by Foundation Assistance International (DO). From the first year of the beginning of the works the historical center of the city of Al-Aizariya, Bethany in Arabic, has undergone a great transformation. Many portions of the site have been excavated by young Al-Quds University archaeologists and made accessible to an increasing number of tourists and pilgrims. The traces of Byzantine Bethany and the Benedictine monastery of the Crusader era have resurfaced.

In this favorable meeting, the approval of a joint project with the Palestinian Authority and the Mosaic Center for the restoration of Al-Kanater, the tower of Bethany was made official. The ruined tower, part of the Benedictine complex built by Queen Melisenda, is still a symbol of the city today. Symbol of the grandeur of Bethany reached in the Crusader era, the tower represents another challenge for young mosaicists and restorers. A new piece of the historic center that will finally come to light is added to the many actions carried out over the years in collaboration with the local community to encourage tourism. Among these, the local craft markets of the Shouruq Society women’s association, the restoration of the adjacent mosque, part of the ancient crusader complex, and the “Betania Accesible” project in collaboration with the municipality. Special 3D glasses also allow tourists with motor disabilities to view the tomb of Lazarus without having to go down the steep staircase. The delegation guests also experienced the virtual tour: “We support these projects and this idea of ‚Äč‚Äčtourism,” said Minister Rula Maayah.