The project of Regional scattered hotel is started and the network of joining municipalities is growing

The project of Regional scattered hotel is started and the network of joining municipalities is growing

On May 23, 2016 in Bethlehem, the Geographical Society delegation composed of Simone Bozzato, scientific coordinator of the project, Fabio Pollice, communication manager, and Pierfrancesco Valentini tour operator from Castromediano, met representatives of Dar Al Kalima College at the International Center of Bethlehem, in order to evaluate the progress of renovation works of the building units that will be the first hotel rooms of scattered hotel. Second aim of the meeting was to define the management model of the hotel.

fig1The meeting was also attended by        the President of the ” Most Beautiful Villages of Palestine”, that joined the project bringing more than 70 beds, distributed in the historical centers of the municipality of Beit Sahour and Battir, two important centers in the governorate of Bethlehem.

Given the proximity of the two centers, their relevance attractiveness – Battir is UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the complementary accommodation (tourists staying in Battir visit Bethlehem and vice versa), the meeting confirmed what has been decided in the previous meeting in November 2016: to constitute scattered hotel with three different receptive units and a central management focused on Accomodation Centre in Bethlehem.

It should be emphasized that this will be the first hotel, in the Mediterranean region, with a scattered configuration but a central management of availability.fig2

During the morning, there was also the meeting with Issam Juha, Vice-Mayor of Bethlehem and Director of the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation, which expressed warm appreciation for the Future of Our Past project and pledged to work with the project partnership, by joining the municipalities of Bethlehem to the network and by offering other buildings of the area.

fig3During the afternoon the mayor invited the delegation to Battir to visit the building units that municipality wants to make available for the hotel.fig4

Battir is a beautiful village surrounded by intensively cultivated terraces, taking advantage from a particularly favorable climate, and from natural water springs – known and exploited in Roman times, as proven by the still working channel system. Battir is known, in the region, for the quality of its products and vegetable gardens and mainly for the eggplant, the symbol and one of the main identity references.

The delegation went to Jenin to promote the FOP project in the municipalities of the northern West Bank. Along the way, there was a break in Jericho: we hope this city will soon join the network of the municipalities involved in the project.fig5

Few years ago, in Jericho was built a cableway linking the city to the monastery, located on the overlooking mountain. According to Christian tradition, Jesus was tempted there by the devil. Hence, delegation left for Jenin where arrived in the evening.

First stage of the next morning was the municipality of Beitleed, a small fig6village where are some stone houses dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, mostly abandoned. The municipality would like to renovate and use as a guest house.

Accompanied by the Mayor, delegation went to visit the nearby “Roman pools”. It is a Roman time stone quarry, where was built a garden and a swimming pool for summer tourists.

Then, delegation moved in the direction of Sebastia, an important center of Jenin region, where there are many archaeological remains from Herod’s palace. Tourists can visit the prison where John the Baptist was prisoner before his beheading, in the same place.

Close to the Palace, municipality realized a guest house with 4 bedrooms recovering a set of old buildings. Municipality is planning for expansion through acquiring some adjacent properties. In the same area, an ancient Roman barn was also recovered, now used as a conference room, and an Ottoman bakery, now planned to be used as a restaurant.

Few meters away, there is another guest house (municipal property), managed by local young people. The place attractive potential is really high, due to a Roman theater, in addition to Herod’s palace and the burial area with stone sarcophagi. Moreover, there is a vast array of archaeological sites, an ancient Roman settlement with large sections of walls and a long colonnade.

Mayor Sebastian confirmed his interest in a more active involvement in the FOP project.

Next stop was the village of Burqin, famous because in its territory, just behind the ancient urban nucleus, there is the church that Queen Helena, mother of Constantine, created in front of the cave where – according to tradition – Jesus healed the lepers.fig7fig8

Before visiting the church, the fourth oldest in the world, delegation had lunch – guests of Burqin Mayor – in the visitor center made by municipality by catching up a group of old buildings in the old town. A very functional renovated structure, where they plans to build four rooms to add to other set by municipality in other buildings of the old town.

Then, delegation departed to Zababdeh, a village close to Jenin. This city shown, during the last years, a great vitality thanks to some touristic infrastructures, in reply to touristic needs of thirteen thousand students of the nearby Arab and American University. Within the old town, there are many Ottoman buildings, mainly abandoned and crumbling.

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The Mayor, supporter of the FOP project, said he is ready to invest money and ideas in recovery of historical center, following sustainable development and community involved model proposed by the FOP Project.

At the end of the day, delegation signed an “agreement” with the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Palestine, in order to strengthen most of the project Association participation.

During this second mission in Palestine, it become clear that the FOP project meets interest of Palestinians, showing hard synergies with local authorities. These authorities are already promoting the recovery of historical centers and the promotion of sustainable tourism, focused on a greater involvement of local communities and on the development of the material and immaterial cultural heritage.

 

Fabio Pollice

FOP Communication Manager

 

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http://www.futureourpast.eu/en/sponsor/