Bethlehem is an attractive tourist destination for both travelers and Christians around the world. There are not only religious places but also rich in historical sites to explore. It is situated in Palastine west bank closer to the Israel border. Some tourists hesitate to visit Bethlehem due to the conflicts in progress. Media is the main reason for making confusion on people’s minds. Clashes are going on in the Gaza strip which is about 100km south from Bethlehem. It is better to get the recommendation from a person who has recently visited there rather than believing what is on news. It is safe to visit Bethlehem as necessary precautions have followed by both Israel and Palestine.
10kms separates Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It will take about an hour to travel between two cities due to heavy traffic and the checkpoints of either side of the border. Travel time can differ depending on the mode of transport you choose. You can select from public buses, taxis or tours. Most tourists prefer taking a tour as it is included the assistance of a local guide.
If you wonder is Bethlehem worth visiting, here are some places you can visit within the city. These places provide amazing experiences to the people who visit there. The following are the top 5 places that make Bethlehem worth visiting.
The wall established to separate Israel and Palestine is a rare sight to see. It is made of concrete. There are many inspirational, emotional thoughts and graffiti can be seen on the wall. You can buy stencils from the nearby shops and have your own graffiti on the wall. One famous stencil is “Make hummus, not wall”.
Walled off Hotel
Walled off Hotel is situated next to the wall. As it is in the name, hotel rooms have the view of the wall. If you are looking for a beautiful landscape view from your room, ready to be disappointed.
As you enter the hotel, you are greeted by a plastic monkey at the entrance. Bansky arts and architecture can be seen all over the hotel. There are bunk beds available in some hotel rooms.
Grotto of the Nativity and The Church of the Nativity
Also called the Basilica of the Nativity. This is believed as the place where Jesus born. UNESCO has named this place as a world heritage site since 2012. There is a silver star symbol at the place considered as the birthplace of Jesus. It is in an underground cave. If you are a Christian, it is worth visiting Bethlehem to see Christ’s birthplace.
The holy ground where Jesus Christ born and raised is a sacred place for Christians. This is where the Angel informed shepherds about the arrival of Jesus. Now there are five churches in Shepherd’s Fields. They are the natural cave church, the cave church, the Basilica, the monastery church, and the roof church. These churches date back to the 4th century. Archeological signs and evidence that are available in this holy site belong to the early Byzantine era.
If you are a Christian or a traveler who seeks a place with historical value, it is worth visiting Bethlehem to see the Shepherd’s Fields.
Chapel of the Milk Grotto
Located to the south of the Church of Nativity. The Grotto is made of strange white-colored stones. Legends say that a drop of Mary’s breast milk dropped on the ground and turned the black stones to white.
This place is popular among mothers, pregnant ladies and women who are willing to get pregnant. There is a belief that this place has blessings for them. People believe, by mixing the chalk in their food can increase the quantity and the quality of breast milk. Milk Grotto is as interesting as the story. It is worth visiting to see the wonderful landscape there.
Here lies Rachel who died in her 2nd childbirth. Tourists visit and pray for their mothers and children at the tomb of the woman who gave her life for her child. Now the tomb is covered by walls and there are separate sides for men and women. Here people pray for mother Rachel.
If you are a Christian, this is a must-visit place in Bethlehem. It will be an experience which cannot get from anywhere else.
Palestinian Heritage Center
Here you can see traditional products made by Palestinian women. In the Palestinian Heritage Center, there is the Old Bethlehem Museum which is a showcase of Palestinian heritage and culture. Handmade embroidery, produced by women in rural areas is available for buying here. This is a better place to afford a souvenir to make the Bethlehem visit memorable.
Numerous features are available in the Heritage Center. The Bedouin Tent is available for relaxing and having an Arabian cup of tea. A gift shop with handcrafts is there for visitors to buy presents for their loved ones. Central Display Panel represents the machinery and utilities use for the day to day chores. If you want to buy posters and postcards of traditional Palestinian dresses, there is a Photographic collection available in the Heritage Center.
The library is another special feature inside the Heritage Center. Visitors can get books and references in different places and the culture of the Palestine region. You can rent traditional dresses and get photographs. These unique features make the experience visiting Bethlehem more efficient for the visitors.
Planning is very important before visiting Bethlehem. There are strict rules and regulations in the area. If you can afford the service of a local guide, it will be a plus feature for your trip. Israeli Shekel, USD and Euro accepted in Bethlehem. Payments using major credit cards also available in shops and restaurants. You can turn your visit to sightseeing combined with an educational tour. It is ideal to plan your trip as a day tour. Bethlehem consists of religious, cultural and historical value which makes it worth visiting for anyone who is interested in it.