Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ Located on the West Bank region of Palestine. It is a sacred pilgrimage site for Christians around the world. Located in the middle of the Judo Mountain range, located between Israel and Jordan; This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is located about 8 kilometers south of Jerusalem and contains the Church of the Nativity – the oldest surviving church in the world. Read on to know more about this holy city.
History of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ
There is an interesting story behind the Jesus Birthplace Cave. It is believed that Jesus was born in an animal shelter because Mary and Joseph could not be housed in an overcrowded inn due to the ongoing census. The child was wrapped and placed in a manger (pool of water) in the cave. The caves were used as animal shelters and storage units while houses were built near them. In the 3rd century, St. Helena, mother of Constantine, built a church over the cave. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, survived the Persian invasion.
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Highlights of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ
Apart from the Church of the Nativity, there are many sites to see in this holy place. There are several hotels and restaurants to stay at, along with some souvenir and antique shops:
1. The Church of the Nativity
This holy site is spread over a total of 3 hectares. It is divided into 5 corridors or caves and each cave has many pillars painted with beautiful paintings. The basilica is entered through a ridiculously small door called the ‘Door of Humility’. To enter the main altar one has to bow. Parts of the floor mosaic in the octagonal floor directly above the nave of the Nativity of Jesus are from the original 3rd-century basilica.
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2. Milk Cottage
It is a few minutes’ walk from Mangar Square. It is a grotto carved in irregular shape inside a soft white rock. A Franciscan chapel is built above this grotto, connected by a narrow corridor. It is believed that once Mary accidentally spilled some milk while feeding baby Jesus and that is why the walls of the grotto are white. For both Christians and Muslims, the place holds religious significance and is a symbol of fertility.
3. Mar Saba Monastery
It is located on the edge of a cliff in the Kidron Valley, 15 kilometers east of Bethlehem. It is a Greek Orthodox monastery, built in the 5th century by the monk St. Sabas of Cappadocia. It is the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the world and is currently home to 15 monks. The monks survive on a nearby natural spring and olive oil candles as electricity and running water are not available. It offers wonderful hiking and trekking routes to watch the sunset.
Place: very sweet
Time: 8 am to 4 pm
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4. Bethlehem Museum
The museum is housed in a 19th-century Palestinian building consisting of three rooms. It has a collection of cultural and historical items on display and also has a gift shop attached. One can learn about the life and history of Palestinians. An embroidery center is located on the top floor of the building where one can purchase hand-embroidered products. In addition to the embroidery section, the Bethlehem Museum exhibits ancient stone objects, photographs and paintings from the 18th-19th centuries, traditional Byzantine icons, pearl art objects, olive wood carvings and Roman aqueduct remains.
Place: Star Street, Bethlehem
Time: 8 am to 5 pm
5. Rachel’s Tomb
Rachel’s Tomb is the third holiest site for Jews, after the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs. This is the burial place of Jacob’s wife who died while giving birth to Benjamin. The grave is covered with a velvet sheet. Jews, Christians and Muslims worship equally here. It is a symbol of nurture and maternal love and people from all over the world gather here to silently address their share of pain and difficulties.
Place: Hebron Road, near the Israel-West Bank border
Time: 8 am – 6 pm
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6. St. Catherine’s Church
This church is located right next to the Basilica of the Nativity. It is dedicated to St. Catherine based on the theory that Jesus appeared in a vision to Catherine of Alexandria in 310 AD and prophesied that she would die a martyr. The architecture of the church is beautiful and its main focal point is the large stained glass window depicting the nativity scene just behind the high altar. This church holds Biblical significance and several caves can be seen beneath the church which houses the Chapel of the Holy Innocents.
7. Solomon’s Pools
Solomon’s Ponds are the final historic stop for pilgrims to Bethlehem. There are three water basins filled with natural springs found in the Kidron Valley. It is said that this is where King Solomon used to come for some rest and he wrote the Song of Solomon. It has been a part of the oldest water system of the city of Jerusalem and is the oldest site available to tourists.
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How to reach Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ
The holy Christian pilgrimage site can be reached by road from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Buses run frequently from Jerusalem and take about 30-45 minutes to reach Manger Square. Bus number 21 departs from the Damascus Gate of the Old City and passes through the Israeli security wall and stops at the military checkpoint (Rachel Crossing) at the entrance to Bethlehem.
Bus ticket price: INR 140/- per person
Taxi cost: INR 1000/-
Tips for Visiting Bethlehem, Birthplace of Jesus Christ
To ensure that your trip is safe and happy, keep these following tips in mind when visiting Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ:
1. Carry your passport with you at all times. Visitors are checked at the Bethlehem-Israel border.
2. Women are expected to cover their head and shoulders. Men should wear caps at religious places.
3. Carry the local currency Israeli Shekel. Sometimes USD and Euro are accepted.
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After seeing so many pictures of the birthplace of Jesus, we are sure that you have started to picture the place in your mind. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is not only a religious place but an adventure in itself. Bethlehem literally means “house of food” in Hebrew. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. If you’re looking for the trip of a lifetime, book your tickets to Israel today.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bethlehem, Birthplace of Jesus Christ
If you are visiting South Africa on a trip and plan to stop in Bethlehem, the following are some frequently asked questions about visiting Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, that you should read:
Q. Where was Jesus born?
One. It is believed that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth.
Q. In which continent is Bethlehem located?
One. Bethlehem is located in the Middle East on the Asian continent. The map shows the birthplace of Jesus surrounded by Israel, Jordan, and part of the Dead Sea.
Q. What’s the weather like in Bethlehem?
One. The climate is generally temperate. It is quite hot and humid throughout the year and the nights are pleasant. There is a possibility of snowfall in winter.
Q. Which country owns Jerusalem?
One. Jerusalem is located in Israel and is also its capital.
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