5 Reasons To Visit Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a beautiful spot which is perfect for history lovers. Click here to find out what makes it so beautiful and what you should visit.
04:10 01 March 2023
Just six miles from Jerusalem, Bethlehem is a city that is sadly overlooked by many Israeli vacationers. This is mainly due to the time in which it takes to enter.
Despite its close proximity to Jerusalem, it is necessary to swap both vehicles and guides, as well as cross border checkpoints – which means it is essential to have your passport on your person if you wish to visit.
But Bethlehem is a beautiful place, full of interesting shops, historic landmarks and friendly locals who are more than willing to discuss the story of their city. With this in mind, here are five reasons you should visit and what you should look out for if you do:
The Segregation Wall
It’s certainly a sobering experience if you choose to visit the wall that separates Israel and Palestine. The wall itself is large and grey, sombre and quiet, but the graffiti is quaint and inspiring. From one inch to the next, the wall is lathered with hopeful street art, including an original Banksy that illustrates two children painting a hole with beautiful colours and scenery. In fact, shops nearby this wall have paint and stencils for people to paint their own art onto the wall.
The Walled Off Hotel
Also nearby the wall is The Walled Off Hotel, which is owned by a Palestinian local. Banksy himself has invested money into the space – you might be able to tell by the doorman, which takes the shape of a plastic monkey – and many pieces of Banksy’s art are layered throughout the interior. Some of the proceeds made from the hotel are donated to Bethlehem, which means the whole town benefits from its presence. Speaking of the town, there are a number of shops nearby selling beautiful Judaica trinkets. If you don’t want to be lugging around ornaments, however, you can always have a look and then order online from nadavart.com to take a piece of Israel’s history home with you.
Mar Saba Monastery
If you fancy venturing a little further, the Greek monastery – Mar Saba – is located just 10 km from Bethlehem, and it is one of the most beautiful fortresses you will ever see. Built by Saint Sabba, it is the oldest inhabited monastery in the world, located in the quiet mountains of the Judean Desert. Just be aware, the monastery upholds old traditions, meaning women are restricted to the main compound and can only gain access in a building called Woman’s Tower.
Shepherd's Field is one of the most religious and historic sites in all of Bethlehem. According to ancient scripture, it is here that an angel appeared and revealed the news of Jesus’s birth to shepherds. The building itself is unique in its design and it is surrounded by treelife and gardens, making the atmosphere all the more serene and beautiful.
For those who love their history, Rachel’s Tomb is another must-visit. It is a significant site for Jews, in particular, as this is the place in which the wife of Jacob died whilst giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. Among women, this site is very popular and is often used for worship and prayer to overcome barrenness. Whatever your reason for visiting, however, this is a gorgeous spot which simply radiates history.