Phase II

The success of the first phase work activities and the availability of generous funds by several donors allowed for the continuation of the restoration program. In accordance with the list of work priorities provided by the Presidential Committee and based on the comprehensive study conducted in 2010, new interventions were launched in June 2014. They included the restoration of the Narthex, the Narthex eastern wooden door, the Basilica doors, the wall mosaics, the internal plasters and the external stone surfaces.

The intervention was necessary to protect the Church main entrance, which along with the roof represented the main elements of risk that led UNESCO to include the Church in the list of endangered sites. The archaeological excavation above the three vaults of the Narthex was completed in Sep. 2014 and an extensive documentation was collected. A detailed consolidation solution for the damaged vaults was developed on the basis of a detailed laser scanning survey that shows the deformed current status of the vaults, the analysis of the changes occurred over the years to the bearing walls, the information obtained from the historical documentation, the tests on masonries and their components and finally the results of 3D numerical simulations of the structural behavior. The solution was approved and the structural intervention, started in June 2015 by consolidating of the three said vaults followed by the installation of the supporting steel structure on the extrados of the narthex vaults, the installation of the corrugated sheets with the steel reinforcement, casting 10 cm of concrete slab, casting the slopping foamed concrete, installing two layers of bituminous membrane and installing back the reserved dismantled old tiles.

 

The restoration works had been completed in October, 2016 where the Narthex roof had reached a safe structural condition and that allowed the contractor to remove the old wooden propping system that was supporting the damaged vaults since 1935 during the British mandate.

Narthex eastern wooden door

The restoration works for the narthex eastern wooden door started in June 2014 by performing high-resolution digital photographic documentation and diagnostic research and followed with careful consolidation and a treatment process carried out by wood restoration specialists.

During the works, a major finding was made as the original upper part of the door on the eastern surface (the surface that can be seen from inside) was found hidden under newly installed wooden boards. On the western surface the restoration allows to fully appreciate the beauty of the original marquetry. The work was completed in December, 2014 after which visitors and pilgrims can admire the door in its original form.

 

Iron and Iron-wooden Doors of the Basilica and Narthex

The works included the restoration of the humility iron door; narthex southern iron door; lateral nave northern iron-wooden door; lateral nave southern iron door and lateral nave north iron window. The surfaces showed in many cases erosions and exfoliations due to the oxidation of the iron and degradation of the wooden elements of the lateral nave northern door. The restoration process included accurate photographic documentation, before, during and after restoration, tests execution for the various phases of the operation, stratigraphic tests for identification of the finishing coats sequence of the varnishes, mechanical removal of incoherent deposits, chemical removal of superficial coherent deposits, treatment aimed to stop the oxidation and to protect metallic surfaces, visual and aesthetic interference reduction of the surfaces and protective surface treatment as final operation of the restoration. The works had been completed in April, 2015.