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Bethlehem - بيت لحم

Located in the central West Bank just 6 kilometers south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is a Palestinian city home to about 25,000 people. Pilgrims from around the world come to see the place where, according to the New Testament, Jesus was born. According to the Torah David was also from Bethlehem, and it was here that he was proclaimed the King of Israel. Bethlehem was destroyed in the second century by the forces of Emperor Hadrian, but was rebuilt under the instruction of Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine. Constantine and Helena ordered the construction of the Church of the Nativity in 327 CE on the site where Jesus was said to have been born. The church was badly damaged by a Samaritan revolt in 529, but Emperor Justinian oversaw its repair nearly a century later. Bethlehem was taken in the Rashidun conquests of 637 before being conquered by the Crusaders in 1099. It has been under the control of the Palestinian National Authority since the 1995 Oslo Accords.

Bethlehem, home to both a large Christian and a large Muslim population, is known for its mother-of-pearl carving, an art that is said to have been brought to the city in the 15th century by Italian Franciscan friars. It is home to the International Museum of Nativity, built by UNESCO, the Baituna al Talhami Museum and the Badd Giacaman Museum.

Overnight

Type of Accommodation

Hotel

Names

Casa Nova Hotel, Nativity Bells Hotel, Sahara Hotel

Websites

www.nativitybellshotel.ps

www.saharabethlehem.com

www.casanovapalace.com

 

* You may opt to stay with a local host family in nearby Beit Sahour (1 km away), rather than at a hotel in Bethlehem. More information about the host families can be found here: www.sirajcenter.org/index.php/accommodation/families

Notes

When staying with local families, it is recommended that you bring a small gift to share with your hosts. Examples of such gifts are anything your country or region is known for (jams, soaps, etc.), or tea, coffee, chocolate or other candy. You should not bring alcohol or foods containing pork, as most host families are Muslim and both products are forbidden in Islam.

When staying with local families you will also have the opportunity to wash your clothes if necessary: to do so, you should ask your hosts and they will be able to assist you. You should be sure to have your own towel and toiletries.

Due to its diverse population and urban environment, you will be able to find alcohol in Bethlehem.

In villages it is important that you are dressed modestly at all times: this means wearing loose, opaque clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Women should carry a lightweight scarf with which they can cover themselves when entering mosques or other holy sites.

While well-stocked pharmacies are easily accessible in much of the West Bank, you might not be able to find some desired medicines in small villages. For this reason, we recommend that you bring with you high SPF sunscreen, aspirin or other pain relievers, antihistamine, disinfectant, insect repellent, antibiotics and intestinal antiseptics. You should also have a hat, water bottle, backpack and comfortable shoes with you at all times to ensure your health and comfort while walking.