Despite ongoing serious problems between the Christian community in Jerusalem and Israeli settlers, the restored site of Jesus' tomb is one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in the world.
The Edicule, the shrine that is believed to house the cave where Jesus was entombed and resurrected, was restored several years ago. Located at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it needed reinforcement and conservation, including the installation of an underground drainage network for rainwater and sewage.
The restorers removed the iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 in order to shore up the walls. The team also cleared the black soot that accumulated on the shrine's stone facade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles.
Extensive work was done on the tomb's masonry, and titanim bolts have been inserted into the stone slabs, including the one covering the tomb.
The custody of the church is shared by The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations, who have held up the restoration work on the site for over 200 years because of interdenominational disputes.
"If this intervention hadn't happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse. This is a complete transformation of the monument," said Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund.
The tomb was exposed for the first time in October 2016 when the scientists removed the marble cladding that covered it since at least 1555 A.D. The tomb was identified as a relic in 326 A.D. by Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
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