What more to see in Bethlehem?

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a major Christian holy site, as it marks the traditional place of Christ’s birth. The church is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. It is believed that St. Helena has built it. As well, there are others who believe that it was the Emperor Constantine who ordered the construction of monumental churches to honor the three principal events of Jesus’ life. More info about this place find:  here. Open from early morning (5 am) till sunset (5 – 7 pm)

VIC’s tip: It might be a good idea to ask some of the local guides, waiting in front of the Basilica, to show you around the church. There are many hidden grottoes and interesting nooks, which function and meaning might be better explained by a guide. The price is not high and negotiable – you can bargain with them.

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto is a place where, according to a local legend, the Holy Family took shelter during the Slaughter of the Innocents and stayed therefore a short time hiding from Herod’s soldiers. Here where Mary nursed her child Jesus Christ before going to Egypt. It is said that a drop of the Virgin’s milk fell to the floor of the cave, turning the rock white and giving rise to the chalky stone. Open from 7:30 – 8 am till midday & from 2 pm till 5 pm.

VIC’s tip: On the right site of the entrance to the Milk Grotto’s chapel, on the level of the ground is an entrance to the backyard. There you can see a beautiful Byzantine mosaic.

Bethlehem’s Old Town

Take a walk in the Old City of Bethlehem – experience the past of the town while visiting its historical quarters and enjoy its unique architecture full of beautiful ornaments and decorations. Read more: here.

Carmelite Monastery

Mariam Baouardy was born in Galilee in 1846. She entered a Carmel in France and returned to the Holy Land to found a monastery in Bethlehem. Mariam wanted the altar placed above the grotto of David where David received the royal anointing from the hand of Samuel.

French Hospital

Bethlehem French Hospital building is an example of Arabic architecture from 19th century. It has a beautiful garden with lemon and orange trees. The place is an often spot for couples’ engagement and wedding photos. Actually it has been a church before.

Shepard’s Fields (Roman Catholic)

Shepard’s Fields are placed in Beit Sahour,a town east of Bethlehem. The Fields are identified since ancient times with the shepherds who saw the Star of Nativity. The picture shows one of two enclosures in the eastern part of Beit Sahour which is claimed by the Christian Catholic to be the actual ‘Shepherd’s Field’. You can see there an ancient flour stone mosaic and plenty of caves! Open from 8 am till midday & from 2 pm till 5:30 pm.

Shepard’s Fields (Greek Orthodox)

The picture shows the second place which is claimed be the actual ‘Shepherds Field’. That part belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. So if you would like to feel like in Greece for a moment it is a perfect place for you. There is a small Greek Orthodox Church. All its walls are covered by icons which are showing life of saints. The place is like a fairytale. There you can see olive trees older than 2000 years! Open from 8 am till 3 pm.

Cremisan Monastery

Cremisan, a small vineyard of delicious grapes, located in Holyland, laying 850 meter above sea level, on the slopes of a hill, in a beautiful and serene area, 5Km away from Bethlehem and 12 Km from Jerusalem. (www.cremisan.org) Open from 8 am till 4 pm.

A bottle of Cremisan’s wine should be one of your souvenirs from the visit in Bethlehem. Visitor Information Center would like to recommend you David’s Tower red wine 🙂

St. George’s Gate

People of Bethlehem believe that St. George is their protector. It is common that his image is placed over houses’ doors.

St. George’s Gate is an entrance to the village next to Bethlehem called Al-Khader (St. George). There is also situated a monastery of Saint George. During the Feast of St. George in early June, the bridle of Saint George’s horse would pass over the bodies of visitors to prevent or cure any mental illness.

Artas

Artas is a village located four kilometres southwest of Bethlehem. Until the 19th century, the Artas’ residents were responsible for guarding the Solomon’s Pools, a unique water system conducting water to Bethlehem and Herodium. It is a nice idea to visit the Convent of the Hortus Conclusus.

Mar Saba

Mar Saba is a Greek Orthodox monastery in the middle of a desert, east of Bethlehem. Founded by Saint Sabas of Cappadocia in 439 and today houses around 20 monks. One of monastery’s traditions is the restriction on women entering the main compound. The only building that women can enter is the Women’s Tower, near the main entrance. The monastery holds a well-preserved body, believed to be the relics of St. Sabbas the Sanctified.

VIC’s tip: Mar Saba is closed also for men on Wednesdays and Fridays – it is a new rule from the monks. However, it is worth to see the are even if you cannot enter the monastery. There is no public transportation to that place. You need to take a taxi. You can catch a taxi from the Manger Square. Of course, you can ask the VIC for assistance.

Herodion

Herodion is a volcano-like hill with a truncated cone located near the city of Bethlehem. Herod the Great built a fortress and palace on the top of Herodium, and may have been buried there. Herodium is 758 meters (2,487 ft) above sea level.The view from its top is amusing! The fortress has more than 2000 years.

VIC’s tip: To enter Herodion you need to pay around 25 NIS. You can get from Bethlehem to Herodion by taking a shared service orange taxi to Tqua, a village next to Herodion, for 5 NIS. Later ask the driver to continue to Herodion. The taxis are wailing in a parking place in Maslakah street, next to Bethlehem’s spring (Ain Bethlehem).

Visitor Information Center wishes you a great time in Palestine! Do not hesitate to contact us online or visit our office on the Manger Square in Bethlehem (next to the municipality) and ask for any assistance regarding your travel.

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