Church of the Nativity, the original basilica, was completed in 339 but it was destroyed by fire during the Samaritan Revolts of the 6th century.
The site of the Church of the Nativity is a World Heritage Site, and was the first to be listed under Palestine by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
The site is also on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger. The Status Quo, a 250-year old understanding among religious communities applies to the site.
The holy site, known as the Grotto, that the Church of the Nativity sits atop, is today associated with the cave in which the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is said to have occurred. In 135, Hadrian is said to have had the Christian site above the Grotto converted into a worship place for Adonis, the Greek god of beauty and desire. A Father with the Church of the Nativity, Jerome, noted before his death in 420 that the holy cave was at one point consecrated by the heathen to the worship of Adonis, and that a pleasant sacred grove was planted there in order to wipe out the memory of Jesus.
Although some modern scholars dispute this argument and insist that the cult of Adonis-Tammuz originated the shrine and that it was the Christians who took it over, substituting the worship of Jesus the antiquity of the association of the site with the birth of Jesus is attested by the Christian apologist Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165 ), who noted in his Dialogue with Trypho that the Holy Family had taken refuge in a cave outside of town.