Jordan’s Salt inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List 

By: Layal Hazboun/ - Published: July 30 Fri, 2021

Jordan’s Salt inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List  Available in the following languages:

​JORDAN – On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), voted to inscribe the Jordanian city of Salt  (As-Salt) as “the Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality”, on the World Heritage List. Salt is home to the first Latin Patriarchate parish that was established in Jordan by Patriarch Vincent Bracco in 1866.

This came during the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, which was organized by UNESCO and held virtually from Fuzhou in China, from July 16-31.  

According to Petra News Agency, Salt became the sixth Jordanian landmark to be declared a World Heritage Site, succeeding Petra, Wadi Rum, Qasir Amra, Umm Al-Rasas, and the Baptism Site.

Mr. Nayef Al Fayez, Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiques, said that “the city of Salt is among Jordan’s top priorities for its significance in showing the characteristics of tolerance, coexistence and social care among its residents”. 

“The social solidarity between the families of the city of Salt and its visitors, as well as the absence of separate neighborhoods on a religious basis, is one of the clear features of the city”, added Mr. Al Fayez during his participation in the committee’s virtual meeting on Tuesday, stressing that the inclusion of Salt on the World Heritage List will support a culture of heritage, tolerance, and interfaith harmony.

On Wednesday, July 28, Fr. Rifaat Bader, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, extended his congratulations to the Jordanian leadership, government, and people following this achievement, and said: “The city of tolerance reflects the Jordanian image as a whole, which is a model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims who are in solidarity for better or worse, in all the circumstances that Jordan has experienced over the past decades, which constitutes a civilized image that we convey to the whole world with the beginning of the new centenary”.

The old name of the Salt was Gadara, whereas the name goes back to the Middle Ages. Salt remained the capital of Balqa until 1924.

In 1220, Sultan al-Malik built a fortress in Salt, which was later demolished by the Mongols and rebuilt by Sultan Baybars. In 1832, Balqa and East Jordan fell under the rule of Ibrahim Pasha al-Masri, who demolished what remained of the fortress and placed an Egyptian garrison in it. In 1840, Salt and East Jordan fell again under the Turkish rule. 

History of Salt parish, Assumption of Our Lady Church

Balqa was administratively affiliated to Nablus, and because of this administrative connection, the Patriarch asked Fr. Auguste de Actis, parish priest of Nablus at the time, to establish the parish of Salt. In 1866, a worker from Bethlehem, who was building a house for an elderly man in Salt, fell ill. Fr. de Actis visited the man and gave him the sacraments, thus establishing good relations with the people of Salt. Following this, many of the faithful joined the Catholic Church, thus the parish of Salt was formed in the same year. 

In 1869, and following the illness of Fr. de Actis, Fr. Morétain moved to Salt. As soon as he settled, he started thinking of buying land on which to build the church and the monastery. The Turkish authorities allowed him to build the church, provided that its internal area did not exceed 12 meters in length and 6 meters in width. The construction of the church was completed in 1871, and on April 23, 1871, the church was inaugurated. 

Between 1875 - 1880, Fr. Giuseppe Gatti, parish priest of Salt at the time, established the parishes of Rumeimin, Fuheis and Karak. In the meantime, the parish of Salt was growing, and Fr. Gatti started thinking of building a larger church. After many obstacles placed in front of him by the Turkish authorities, Fr. Gatti was finally able to build the new church in 1886. 

Cover photo: ©Rami Tarawneh