|introduced in Civilization IV|
|Great People points||1 Great Prophet|
The Church of the Nativity (Christian Shrine) produces one gold each turn for every city in the world that practices Christianity. It also spreads Christianity throughout the world and increases its city's chance of generating a Great Prophet.
The Church of the Nativity was built in Bethlehem, atop the place where Jesus was born. Constructed in 325 AD, burnt during the Samaritan Revolt in 529 and then rebuilt over the next 50 years, the Church is one of the oldest continuously operating Christian churches in the world. It is also one of the most fought over. Over time the Church has been held by Crusaders, Muslims, and various Christian sects.
Externally, the Church represents more a fortress than it does a house of worship. It is surrounded by a thick stone wall with a few windows or entrances. The Church is laid out in the typical Roman basilica design, with three aisles leading to a semicircular apse containing the altar. The main room once featured walls covered with golden mosaics, but it is now somewhat fallen into decay. Beneath the Basilica lies the "Grotto of the Nativity," an underground cave covering the place where Jesus is said to have been born. The exact spot of Jesus' birth is marked by a silver star and surrounded by silver lamps.
The compound containing the church is approximately 14,000 square yards in size. In addition to the Basilica, it contains a number of other important religious sites and three convents.
Since its inception, Christianity has fragmented into a number of distinct sects. For many years these different groups have fought for control of the Church, and much blood has been shed on the sacred grounds. In recent years it has been administered by a coalition of Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox clerics, who in uneasy alliance make the Church available to all who wish to enter. Each year the Church is visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims.
The Church's recent history has been as turbulent as its past. The town of Bethlehem is in the West Bank of Palestine, which is periodically under Israeli occupation, and in 2002 the Church itself was occupied by 50 Palestinian fighters seeking refuge from Israeli defense forces. Somewhat miraculously the Church itself suffered no damage in the recent conflicts, although the turmoil has greatly diminished the number of visitors to the site, which in turn limits the money available for its upkeep.
Still, the Church remains one of Christianity's holiest of places where God's only Son and the Savior of mankind entered the world.