Bethlehem

  • Bethlehem (6 miles south of Jerusalem), whose inhabitants are almost all Arabs and the majority Muslim, is governed by the Palestinian Authority. From Jerusalem, you can get here safely by bus or shared taxi. The city of the Nativity is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. The Basilica of the Nativity was built on a network of caves in 323 by Constantine, the first Roman emperor ...
    © René Mattes
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Palestine

Bethlehem (6 miles south of Jerusalem), whose inhabitants are almost all Arabs and the majority Muslim, is governed by the Palestinian Authority. From Jerusalem, you can get here safely by bus or shared taxi. The city of the Nativity is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. The Basilica of the Nativity was built on a network of caves in 323 by Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, and it was in one of these caves that Mary is said to have given birth to Baby Jesus. Today the basilica is shared by various Christian denominations. In the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine (added to the basilica in 1881), Midnight Mass is celebrated each year on 24th December. In one of its underground caves, the church houses the cenotaph of St. Jerome, who spent thirty years here translating the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). The Shepherds' Field, one of the oldest sanctuaries in the Holy Land (the remains of the decoration from the 6th century), is a place of pilgrimage marking the spot where the angel Gabriel appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ the Saviour.

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