PHOTO: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem gets a fresh new look. (Photo via Flickr/israeltourism)
The scaffolding is gone, and so are decades worth of dust and grime as a revered location opens its most valued treasure to the public.
NBC News reports the Holy Edicule—the spot Christians believe to be the last resting place of Jesus Christ—pulled back the figurative curtains on an immense and expensive restoration process.
Those making an Easter pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre will get quite the astonishing sight.
Professor Antonia Moropoulou explained the arduous process, via NBC News: “We didn't dismantle the monument, we didn't jeopardize its structural integrity. We just restored it. Now you can see the colors, the texture of the stone, you can see the letters of inscriptions, the frescos, the different styles of mural paintings. So here is a monument that was worshiped through the centuries and will be worshiped forever.”
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One of the oldest churches in the world had a tremendous helping hand from the World Monument Fund, which kicked in $1.7 million for the renovation that ended up costing $3.7 million.
The organization’s Bonnie Burnham explained: “This is a complete transformation of the monument. The monument was surrounded by scaffolding that made it very difficult to really appreciate. And the scaffolding was often used by the worshipers to place candles, so the entire outside of the building was covered with black soot and you couldn't really see the color.”
That soot has been removed through a tedious process that involved Q-tips and painstaking detail.
National Geographic reports some researchers from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) have expressed fear that work is not yet complete on making the place safe.
Moropoulou is that group’s chief scientific supervisor, and she tells National Geographic: “When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic.”
As noted, the restoration has certainly beautified a beloved place. However, the process really illustrated a shoddy foundation built on generations of structures. The publication explains the Edicule sits on: “unstable foundation of crumbled remnants of earlier structures and is honeycombed with extensive tunnels and channels.”
This assessment will hardly keep what is reportedly millions of annual visitors from a place that may very well be the most sacred location in their respective religion. Yet, it also indicates that the needed preservation work has only just begun.