Bethlehem birthplace of Jesus Christ is located in the West Bank region of Palestine. It serves as a sacred destination for Christians from all over the globe. Situated within the Judeau Mountain Range, between Israel and Jordan, this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is approximately 8 kilometers south of Jerusalem. It is home to the Church of the Nativity, which is the oldest surviving church in existence. Continue reading to discover more about this holy city.
History Of Bethlehem Birthplace Of Jesus Christ
There is a fascinating tale behind the cave where Jesus was born. It is believed that due to the ongoing census, Mary and Joseph could not find lodging in the overcrowded inn and had to take shelter in an animal refuge. The baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger, which was essentially a water trough within the cave. These caves served as both animal shelters and storage facilities, while houses were constructed nearby. In the 3rd Century, St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, commissioned the construction of a church above the cave. The birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem managed to survive the Persian invasion.
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Highlights Of Bethlehem Birthplace Of Jesus Christ
In addition to the Church of the Nativity, this holy site boasts numerous other attractions. Visitors to Bethlehem can explore a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops selling souvenirs and antiques:
1. The Church of the Nativity
This revered site covers a total area of 3 hectares. It is divided into 5 aisles or naves, each adorned with intricate murals. Access to the basilica is through a remarkably small entrance known as ‘The Door of Humility’. Visitors must crouch down to enter the main altar. Sections of the mosaic floor in the octagonal area directly above the cave where Jesus was born date back to the original 3rd-century basilica.
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2. The Milk Grotto
It is a few minutes stroll from the Manger square. It is a cave carved in an irregular shape inside a soft white rock. There is a Franciscan Chapel constructed above this cave connected by a narrow corridor. It is believed that once Mary spilled some milk unintentionally while nursing the baby Jesus and that is the reason the walls of the cave are white. For both Christians and Muslims, this place holds religious significance and represents fertility.
3. Mar Saba Monastery
It is situated 15 kilometers east to Bethlehem on the edge of a cliff in the Kidron valley. It is a Greek Orthodox Monastery established in the 5th century by the monk St. Sabas who hailed from Cappadocia. It is the oldest continuously inhabiting monastery in the world and is currently accommodating 15 monks. The monks survive on the natural spring available nearby and olive oil candles as there is no electricity and running water available. It offers a wonderful hiking and trekking routes to observe the sunset.
Location: Juda desertTimings: 8 AM – 4 PM
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4. The Bethlehem Museum
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The gallery is situated in the 19th Century Palestinian edifice comprising of three chambers. It possesses a compilation of cultural and historical artifacts on exhibition and an affiliated souvenir shop. One can acquire knowledge about the existence and past of the Palestinians. There is a stitching center situated on the upper level of the structure where one can purchase hand stitched products. Apart from the stitching section, the Bethlehem Museum showcases archaic stone objects, pictures, and artworks from the 18th – 19th Century, conventional Byzantine images, mother of pearl art objects, olive timber engravings, and Roman aqueduct ruins.
Location: Star Street, BethlehemHours: 8 AM – 5 PM
5. Tomb of Rachel
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Tomb of Rachel is the third most sacred site for the Jews after the Temple Mount and Cave of Patriarchs. It is the burial site for the spouse of Jacob who passed away while giving birth to Benjamin. The tomb is concealed by a velvet cloak. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship equally here. It symbolizes nurturing and motherly affection and individuals from across the globe gather here to express their portion of sorrow and adversities quietly.
Location: Hebron road, near the Israel-West Bank BorderHours: 8 AM – 6 PM
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