The beautiful structure that is now Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church had its humble beginnings in a small wooden building located directly across the street from where it currently stands. Saint Mary's Church, as it was then known, was built in 1848.
The current church is a two-story building constructed in 1969 over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era and then Crusader-era church. Inside, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary.
The church is built on the site of the Church of Nutrition quoted by the pilgrim Arculfe about 670 in De locis sanctis (II, 26), then a church of the crusaders of the kingdom of Jerusalem, whose vestiges under the crypt and a Franciscan church built in the 17th century.
The house of St. Peter, often mentioned by the Synoptic Gospels in relation to the activity of Jesus in Capharnaum, and recorded later on by pilgrims, was rediscovered in 1968 under the foundations of the octagonal church some 30 m south of the synagogue.
One of the main highlights of the church are its restored 5th-century mosaics. These are the earliest known examples of figurative floor mosaics in Christian art in the Holy Land. The mosaics in the two transepts depict various wetland birds and plants, with a prominent place given to the lotus flower.
Preceded by a walled courtyard to the south, the cruciform church shielding the tomb has been excavated in an underground rock-cut cave entered by a wide descending stair dating from the 12th century.
A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy in 2012 found that several olive trees in the garden are amongst the oldest known to science. Dates of 1092, 1166 and 1198 AD were obtained by carbon dating from older parts of the trunks of three trees.
In 1920, during work on the foundations, a column was found two meters beneath the floor of the medieval crusader chapel. Fragments of a magnificent mosaic were also found.
The main structure of the chapel is from the Crusader era; the octagonal drum and stone dome are Muslim additions. The exterior walls are decorated with arches and marble columns. The entrance is from the west, the interior of the chapel consists of a mihrab indicating the direction of Mecca in the south wall. On the floor, inside a stone frame, is a slab of stone called the "Ascension Rock".
Completed in 335 (demolished in 1009, rebuilt in 1048).
Until the Six Day War (in 1967, when Jerusalem was liberated), the Western Wall had no prayer plaza. There was just a narrow alleyway in the Muslim Mughrabi neighborhood - the Al-Buraq Alley, which was 28 meters long and only 3.6 meters wide. After the war and reunification of Jerusalem, the area was expanded. Today it is approximately 57 meters long and can accommodate up to 60,000 people. The Western Wall Plaza officially serves as a synagogue.