Work begins on rebuilding Al-Tahera Syriac Catholic Church in the Old City of Mosul

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The restoration and rehabilitation of the Al-Tahera Church in the Old City of Mosul is well underway.In close coordination with UAE and local authorities, UNESCO concluded the first phase of activities by clearing the rubble and Unexploded ordnance, UXOs, from the complex as well as securing the project site for reconstruction.

The reconstruction work is quite complex as large parts of its arcades were destroyed, as well as its external walls. Local contractors, under the supervision of skilled experts, are doing the work.

Furthermore, the open bidding to select a design proposal for the reconstruction of the Church and annexed cloister is currently launched, with subsequent development of related implementation programme for the actual execution of the works.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said, “This step sends a message of hope to the community in Mosul that has always been an incubator for religious and intellectual discourse. Through our restorative efforts with UNESCO, the UAE aims to rebuild various places of worship and allow displaced Moslawis to return to their homes. Mosul has always been a place of tolerance and coexistence before several historical, religious and heritage sites were destroyed by extremists.”

Al Kaabi pointed out that the reconstruction of Al-Tahera Church does not only cement Mosul’s position as a hub of rich cultural heritage, but also restores religious diversity that the Old City is known for.

“The UAE’s restoration project seeks to empower Moslawi youth by creating job opportunities, providing vocational and technical training, and enhancing the capabilities of craftsmen in the field of preservation of cultural heritage through a strategic project that is being implemented in cooperation with ICCROM,” she added.

An iconic symbol woven into the history of Mosul, Al-Tahera Church was built in 1859 and opened in 1862. The Church is located in the heart of the Old City, formerly defined by the Ottoman city walls on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite ancient Nineveh. Its multiple altars, dining room and two sacristy rooms set it aside from other churches of the same period.

UNESCO is fostering reconciliation and social cohesion in Mosul through the restoration and reconstruction of emblematic historical sites as part of the UN agency-led international initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”. The rehabilitation of this church is important not only because of its value as cultural heritage, but also as a testimony to the diversity of the city, a proud crossroads of cultures and a peaceful haven for different religious communities over the centuries.

This project is funded by the United Arab Emirates and beyond the rehabilitation of architectural landmarks, it includes on-the-job training for young professionals; strengthening the capacities of craftspeople (masons, carpenters, stone carvers, metalsmiths, etc.); job creation opportunities; and technical and vocational education.

WAM/Tariq alfaham/MOHD AAMIR