Birthplace of Jesus – Church of Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in UNESCO

Did you know that the place of Jesus Christs’ Birth is still not recognized as the World Heritage?… but hopefully soon it will be!

Visitor Information Center in Bethlehem would like to inform you that UNESCO declared that Palestinians may be soon able to include the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage route in Bethlehem as their first site on the World Heritage List! As well as 36 other proposed sites will be reviewed by the Heritage Committee during its next meeting in San Petersburg at the end of the month of June 2012.

Nativity Star Grotto Bethlehem

Palestine, which became a member of UNESCO in October 2011 will be presented for the first time for inclusion on the World Heritage List during the meeting in the period from 24th June till 6th July in Russia. Wish us good luck! :-)

Read more about the places nominated to the World Heritage List at the official webpage of UNESCO.

What more to see in Bethlehem?

Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity

Nativity Star Grotto Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world, and the oldest in the Holy Land (founded in 325). The structure in a style of a cross is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The building was founded by the Queen Helen of the Byzantine Empire.

The main Basilica of the Nativity is maintained by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It is designed like a typical Roman basilica, with five aisles and an apse (a room in a shape of a semicircle) in the eastern end, where is placed the sanctuary.

The walls of the church are covered with ancient mosaics, sadly mainly damaged. The basilica can be entered through a very low door, called the “Door of Humility”. The original mosaic Roman style floor is covered over, but part of it can be seen through the trap door in the modern floor. Next to the altar there is a large gilded iconostasis and a big number of decorative lamps throughout the entire building.

The Grotto of the Nativity, beneath which is the star marking the spot where tradition says the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Opening Hours: Summer: 6:30 am – 7:30 pm (April – September) Winter: 5:30 am – 5:00 pm (October – March); Tel: 02-2742440

Church of St. Catherine

Entrance to the St. Catherine Church in Bethlehem

The Church of St. Catherine is said to be built on the site of Christ’s appearance to St. Catherine of Alexandria and his prediction of her martyrdom (around 310 AD). It is first recorded in the 15th century and it is a Roman Catholic Church – This is the church where the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem celebrates Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The modern basilica has three aisles. To the north and west is the active Franciscan monastery. Outside the west door of the church is a pleasant cloister, restored in 1948 by A. Barluzzi using columns and capitals of the 12th-century monastery. The cloister includes a modern statue of St. Jerome; the church facade is topped with a statue of St. Catherine.

Opening hours: Summer: 6:00 am – 12:00 noon & 2:00 – 7:30 pm (April – September), Winter: 5:00 am – 12:00 noon & 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm (October – March), Sunday: Open Sunday morning for masses. Grotto opens in the afternoon; Tel: 02-2742425