|A general view shows the Ziggurat of Ur ruins, ahead of the planned visit of Pope Francis, in Ur near Nassiriya, Iraq February 18, 2021. (Photo by=REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Pope Francis is scheduled to hold an inter-religious prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week - an event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham, Reuters said.
Located about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the site comprises a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjacent residential complex as well as temples and palaces. Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited today after decades of war and political instability shattered Iraq’s international tourism industry. The coronavirus crisis now also keeps local tourists away. The State Board for Antiquities and Heritage director for Ur, Ali Kadhim Ghanim said the complex next to the Ziggurat dates back to 1900 BC.
Ghanim hopes that Pope Francis’ visit will attract international attention to the site, which he says is badly needed to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples. The father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is described in the biblical book of Genesis as living in the city before God called upon him to create a new nation in a land he later learned was Canaan. “This is why it is believed that this building, or house, was the house of the prophet Abraham,” Ghanim said.