Bethlehem

Bethlehem is a small city which is located about 10 km south of the Old City of Jerusalem within the West Bank in an area known as Area A which is administered by the Palestinian Authority. This small town has been mentioned in lot of Christmas carols and attracts a lot of pilgrims because of its description in the New Testament especially the Gospels as the birthplace of Jesus whom all Christians believe to be the Messiah and Son of God. The focus of Christian veneration in the city is one of the oldest churches in the world the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem is also revered by Jews as being the birthplace and hometown of David who was the King of Israel. This town is the traditional site of Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts. Even though Bethlehem has many Muslims it is still home to one of the largest Arab Christian communities in the Middle East. The town is the chief cultural and tourism source for the Palestinian community. The Bethlehem agglomeration also includes the small towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour with the latter having biblical significance. When the time came toward the millennium in the year 2000 Bethlehem underwent a huge foreign-funded project which was called Bethlehem 2000 with the hope of turning it into a major tourist destination comparable to destinations like Jerusalem or Tel Aviv within the tourism infrastructure. These efforts were in vain however when the following year the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupations broke out in violence and frightened people away. However now that this violence is a thing of the past they once more want to pick up on the Bethlehem 2000 project and tourists are returning for tours once more.

Bethlehem is a long snake like town whose main thoroughfare is Manger Street which stretches from Rachel’s Tomb all the way to Manger Square. This is the focal point of the town. On the one side of Manger Square is the Church of the Nativity and on the other the Mosque of Omar. The Old Town and the souq or market which are better navigated on foot stretch up the hill from Manger Square. The residents largely speak Arabic but English, French and some other languages are also widely spoken and understood by the people of Bethlehem. Bethlehem first and foremost is a Palestinian town but it also is a tourist-orientated town. Since the Palestinian Authority maintains a constant tourist police presence Bethlehem is a safe place to visit for tourists and tourist numbers increase each year. Most of the tourists arrive through Jerusalem. When entering from Jerusalem one has to pass through the Rachel’s Crossing Israeli checkpoint which is getting checked the same way as at the airport. Tourists can enter and exit from the checkpoint as often as they like. If coming to Bethlehem by bus there is an Arab bus station near the Damascus Gate. Devoted pilgrims prefer to walk. For tourists its best to remember that Bethlehem is a small town so taxi rides are cheap.

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Author Bio: Are you looking for more information regarding Bethlehem? Visit www.yoavhasson.com today!

Category: Travel
Keywords: presence bethlehem,tourist-orientated town

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