Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity

Here are a few pictures from our recent excursion to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. We visited the Church of the Nativity, which is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world and, according to tradition, marks the birthplace of Jesus. The first basilica was built in 327 AD by Constantine's mother, subsequently burnt down and was rebuilt in 565 AD. Supposedly, when the Persians invaded the region in the early 600s, they spared the structure because a mosaic inside the church depicted the three wise men wearing Persian clothing.

Looks peaceful enough, right? Wait for it...

When we got to the grotto of the nativity, there amassed a crowd like we had never scene before. We were waiting our turn patiently when a tour group of at least 75 old ladies (not Americans) arrived and elbowed their way in front of everyone, moaning and not making eye contact with any of the other visitors. The photo below is actually before these women arrived (if you can believe it!!). I was so incensed (and also feeling extremely claustrophobic) that we bailed on the grotto.

Besides that weird experience, Bethlehem is a nice town and easy to get to from Jerusalem. I'm sure we will be back to visit some of the other attractions and to shop for souvenirs for our families!


  1. The mass of people is kinda understandable since the grotto is the main attraction in the church, but I think the 'elbowing' old ladies were just quite rude. Nevertheless, I'm glad you had a great experience! Thanks for the photos!

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