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What hotel is located in the heart of what is now the Moravian Church Settlements?

If you answered "Historic Hotel Bethlehem," you're right!

The effort to have Historic Moravian Bethlehem recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) took a major step forward as the United States Department of Interior submitted its first multi-country nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List that includes the Historic Moravian Church Settlements in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Herrnhut, Germany and Gracehill, Northern Ireland/United Kingdom.

J. William Reynolds, mayor of the City of Bethlehem, and chair of the Bethlehem World Heritage Commission, announced in a February 1 news release that the Department of the Interior advised him and representatives of Bethlehem Area Moravians, Central Moravian Church, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, Moravian University, and Northampton County, of the nomination’s submission.

The nomination proposes to have Bethlehem, Herrnhut and Gracehill join Christiansfeld, Denmark, designated a World Heritage Site in 2015, to be a single transnational Moravian Church Settlement Site that represents world-wide Moravian Church Settlements. As a World Heritage List candidate, along with Gracehill and Herrnhut, Bethlehem preserves and advances the ageless values of education, equality, industry, integrity, and spirituality that have been part of the community since 1741.

“We are thrilled that the application for UNESCO World Heritage status has taken this major step forward,” said the Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, president of the Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Moravian Church in America – Northern Province. “The story of the Moravian Church around the world will be told through the four historic settlement congregations. Our hope is that by learning our history, people around the world will also learn about our current life and witness.”

The Bethlehem Site, designated as the Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Landmark District, is located in the heart of downtown Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The site’s original architecture, along with its town planning across 10 acres, eight structures, four ruins, and a cemetery, stands today as a reflection of and tribute to the resilience of a community built on universal human ideals that are essential and relevant to this day. The Bethlehem Area Moravians, City of Bethlehem, and Moravian University are property owners in the District, and Central Moravian Church and Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites are lessees of portions of the District.

The endeavor to seek World Heritage List recognition for Historic Moravian Bethlehem began in 2002 when Christiansfeld, Denmark invited Bethlehem to join with representatives from other historic Moravian Church settlements in The Netherlands, South Africa, Germany and the UK. Since then Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, its predecessor organizations and Others have provided decades- long leadership. In 2017, former Mayor Robert Donchez established the Bethlehem World Heritage Commission to support and help with the actions necessary for Bethlehem to achieve World Heritage status. The Commission is composed of elected officials and leaders in education, business and non-profits.

In 2012, Historic Moravian Bethlehem was designated a National Historic Landmark District, one of 8 in Pennsylvania and about 200 in the United States.

Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Landmark District was added to the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List in 2017 as a potential “extension” to the 2015 inscription on the World Heritage List of the Moravian Church Settlement of Christiansfeld in Denmark.

The final decision on the inclusion on the World Heritage List will be made by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2024.

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