JABALIYA, Gaza Strip – The remains of a 5th-century Byzantine church were unveiled in Gaza on Monday following a three-year restoration project, with the strip’s rulers, terror group Hamas, touting an embrace of their “Christian brothers”.
Remains of a church and monastery were first discovered in Jabaliya, a town in northern Gaza, in 1997 in an area of about 800 square meters (957 square meters).
The floor of the church is adorned with what Hamas officials described as “rare” mosaics, including depictions of animals, hunting scenes and palm trees.
Visitors can now view the mosaics from newly constructed elevated wooden walkways.
Gaza’s tourism ministry said the church’s original walls were adorned with religious texts written in ancient Greek dating back to the time of Emperor Theodosius II, who ruled Byzantium from the year 408 to 450. .
At a ceremony marking the reopening of the site, Gaza’s most senior Christian cleric, Archbishop Alexios of Tiberias, recalled the long history of Christianity in the coastal territory, noting that “monasticism began in the Strip of Gaza in the year 280”.
Byzantine Church of Jabaliya (Al Mukheitim)
In the late 1990s, during the paving of the Salah al-Din regional street in the Gaza Strip, the remains of the Byzantine church, which dates back to 444 AD, were discovered.
The building was in an old cemetery on the outskirts of Gaza on the road to Jerusalem. A wealthy family had established a shrine in memory of their deceased.
The church was built according to the ancient architecture of the basilica composed of three naves and communicating with a chapel where the faithful came to offer oil and garden products for the family in charge of the sanctuary.
A large baptistery with four rooms indicates the high religious importance of the site for pilgrims. The three buildings (churches, chapel and baptistery) are still paved with 400 m² of high quality colored mosaics.
Archaeological remains reveal great economic prosperity in the Gaza Strip in the 6th century.
With the seventeen Old Greek scriptures inscribed on the mosaic cobblestones, the Byzantine Church of Jabaliya is considered one of the main churches of the Levant,
Enjoy a virtual tour of these splendid sites by viewing the 360 degree video below.
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