Bethlehem, Inside of the Church of the Nativity

Brothers ZANGAKI

19th century

Private Collection

Constantine the Great built a church in the 4th century on the site of the cave where Jesus was born. He adorned the church with gold facing, mosaics, precious stones, and marble. Two centuries later, the Emperor Justinian had the church rebuilt to have a larger space and to make it one of the most beautiful monuments of Christianity. Since then, this church had undergone several transformations. In the Middle Ages, the height of the entrance was much lowered than that of today. It was impossible to cross the entrance on horseback. In the Church of the Nativity, there is a silver star bearing the inscription “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est” (“Here, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary”).

Little information about photographers is currently known. The ZANGAKI brothers (probably George and Constantinos ZANGAKI) were two commercial photographers of Greek origin. They were active between the 1870s and the 1890s in the Middle East, notably in Egypt. Ancient monuments and scenes from everyday life there were their favorite subjects. Their customers were mostly European travelers. The brothers were among the first commercial photographers to produce large-scale photographies of Egypt.

Bethlehem, Inside of the Church of the Nativity
Other photographs of the exhibition