Church of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor
On the summit of Mount Tabor the road to the right leads to the area occupied by the Franciscans, enters a walled courtyard and continues between the ruins of an older church on the left and the monastery garden on the right (memorial to the visit of Pope Paul VI in 1964, plaque commemorating the architect Antonio Barluzzi) to the Church of the Transfiguration (or Tabor Church).Built of light-colored limestone, it harks back to the style of church building which developed in Syria in the fourth-sixth centuries. This architecture was no longer concerned only with the decoration and furnishing of the interior but for the first time sought to give the exterior a monumental stamp. This Syrian tradition (as found particularly at Qalb Lozeh near Aleppo) is reflected, for example, in the facade with its two projecting towers, between which a round-headed arch surmounted by a pediment frames the entrance to the church, and in the volute-like framing of the windows. In the interior - again on the Syrian model - the nave is separated from the aisles by wide- spanned arches. The roof beams are born on short columns in the clerestory.The church contains three grottoes which were described by Jonas Korte in 1751 as "three chapels, with a small altar; they are called tabernacles, and they are said to represent the three huts which Peter desired to build, one for his Master, the other two for Moses and Elias". The Grotto of Christ is in the eastern part of the church. Steps lead down to a lower level with a sanctuary enclosed by walls belonging to a Crusader church and roofed with a modern barrel vault. In the vaulting of the apse in the upper part of the church is a mosaic on a gold ground representing the Transfiguration. There are two other chapels in the towers on the west front: in the south tower the Chapel of St Elias, in the north tower the Chapel of Moses, with a mosaic pavement incorporating crosses in the design. This means that the mosaic must date from before 422, when the Emperor Theodosius II prohibited the representation of crosses in mosaic pavements so that this sacred symbol should not be trodden underfoot.
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