Bethlehem (בית לחם) is a small city in the West Bank, and attracts millions of visitors every year for its historical and religious significance. Known in the Christian faith as the birthplace of Jesus, its attractions are chiefly religious, but are intriguing even for people outside of the faith.
The most popular destination in Bethlehem is undoubtedly the Church of the Nativity (كنيسة المهد) on Manger Square. Allegedly the exact place of birth of Jesus, the church dates back to the Roman Emperor Constantine in 330 CE. While the actual structure is somewhat dark in appearance, the adjoining Franciscan Church of St. Catherine is in beautiful shape, and is definitely worth the visit.
The second most visited attraction in Bethlehem is Rachel's tomb (קבר רחל), where the wife of Jacob was supposedly buried. Be aware that access to the tomb is limited for security reasons, but it is visible from the surrounding fortress.
Other exciting sites include the Mosque of Omar (مسجد عمر بن الخطاب), Solomon's Pools (שְׁלֹמֹה), and the Milk Grotto Chapel (המערה של מריה הגבירה). The Old Town (העיר העתיקה) also provides a beautiful place for walks, or if you feel like getting a little out of the city, take a taxi to the dividing wall between Bethlehem and Israel to see the infamous Bansky graffiti.
Bethlehem is located a mere 6 miles (9 kilometers) away from Jerusalem, and is easily accessible by public transportation, either by buses 21 and the 124 direct, running at the Arab bus station Damascus gate in East Jerusalem, or by cab, which remains relatively inexpensive.
Many pilgrims will prefer to hike to Bethlehem by foot, just make sure to be weary of the scorching weather conditions.
Tours & Tickets
Private tour with guide driver to Wadi Qelt, Mar Saba and Bethlehem. After meeting in Bethlehem side, visit St. George Monastery, Mar Saba Monastery in ... Read more
Location: Bethlehem, Israel
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)
Jerusalem and Bethlehem private tour with your expert English-speaking guide. Travel back in time as you explore the sites of Jesus' birth, death and ... Read more
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)