" For many are invited, but few are chosen." - Matthew 22:14



Meaning "House of Meat" or "House of Bread" is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem, with a population of about 25,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority.

The Hebrew Bible identifies Bethlehem as the city David was from. The New Testament identifies Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.


This is the oldest church in the Holy Land still in use. The original church was constructed under the patronage of Constantine's mother, Helena, who came on a pilgrimage to Palestine in 325 AD to investigate the sites associated with the life of Jesus Christ which had been revered since the early days of Christianity. Helena chose to the Grotto of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, as the site for the huge basilica which was completed in 339 AD.

Inside the Church, two sets of stairs on either side of the altar lead down into the Grotto, the site where Jesus was born. A silver star embedded in white marble and bearing the Latin inscription "Here of the Virgin Mary Christ was born" marks the site.


According to tradition, the Milk Grotto is where Mother Mary nursed baby Jesus while hiding there from Herod's soldiers before going to Egypt. Located southeast of the Basilica, it is an irregular Grotto hewn out of soft white rock.

It is believed that some drops of Mary's milk trickled, turning the rock white. Revered by Christians and Muslims alike, the milk-white rock is famous for its healing powers and reputed ability of making nursing easier for women.


This vast esplanade between the Mosque of Omar and the Church of the Nativity constitutes the tourist centre of Bethlehem. The square as well as much of the Old city underwent renovation from 1998 to 2000. Many events throughout the year take place here, culminating in Christmas Eve, or eves, since the birth of Jesus is celebrated three times: on December 25 by Catholics, January 7 by the Orthodox, and January 19 by Armenians.


Pope Paul VI Street, which is in the center of the town, leads down to Manger Square in the heart of the Old City. The numerous convents and churches built by European religious congregations have firmly marked the urban landscape, but Bethlehemis above all an oriental city. The neighbourhoods around Paul VI Street, and the popular Star and Farahiya Streets offer visitors a model of Arab architecture typical of the Ottoman era.

Dar Mansour, the " House of Mansour" (Star Street), is a good example of the architectural style of bourgeois homes at the end of the nineteenth century. Contrasting with the activity of the town's main arteries, the sleepy narrow side streets run between houses arranged in close clusters on the steep slopes around the Old City. Most of these alleyways have stone stairs that are sometimes overhung by passageways in order to connect two dwellings belonging to the same family.

One of the distinctive features of the houses in Bethlehem is their orientation. Despite the fact that the houses are arranged around a closed space, the traditional interior courtyard often has a liwan (a vaulted living room open on one side) looking out over the cultivated land. The tremendous variety of architectural openings, doors, windows and the liwan greatly adds to the picturesque charm of old Bethlehem.


It is located in the town of Beit Sahour 2km east of Bethlehem. This is the site where the angel of the Lord appeared before the shepherds bringing them the good tidings of the birth of Jesus, joined with a multitude of heavenly hosts, who sang " Glory to God In the Highest and on Earth, Peace among men".


Built by Theodosius in 500 AD, the monastery is located east of the historic village of Ubediyyeh12km east of Bethlehem. A white-walled cave marks the burial site of St. Theodosius. Tradition has it that the wise men rested here after God warned them in a dream that they should not return to Herod.


A drive of about 6 kilometers east of Shepherd's Field down a winding road takes you to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mar Saba. Built into a cliff, it has a spectacular view overlooking the gorge of the KidronValley and was part of the grand tour of Palestine during the 19th century.

The founder, St. Saba, came from Cappadocia in the fifth century. There are legends about St. Saba having lived in a cave with a lion for many years. St. Saba died at age 94, and his corpse is still preserved in the Church at the monastery.

The monastery has 110 rooms, though today there are only a few monks residing in it. The monks are friendly and hospitable, but long-established tradition prevents the entry of women, who must enjoy the scenery from outside.


Built in a circular shape on top of a hill 6km southeast of Bethlehem, this fortress includes the remains of a huge palace built by King Herod for his wife in 37 BC. The palace contained luxurious, round walled buildings, fortified chambers, and baths and terraced gardens.Fort Herodion hill dominates the landscape and offers an impressive view of the Dead Sea.


This small building marks the traditional Tomb of Rachel, Jacob's wife. It is considered holy to Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The present sanctuary and mosque were built during the Ottoman period and are situated on the Jerusalem-Hebron Road near the northern entrance of Bethlehem.


Hidden among very tall pine trees in a small valley 4km south of Bethlehem, Solomon's Pools consist of three huge rectangular reservoirs of stone and masonry that can hold 160.000 cubic meters of water. Although tradition attributes these to King Solomon, the pools almost certainly date from the time of Herod, and may have been conceived by Pontius Pilate. In the past, the reservoirs collected spring and rainwater and pumped it to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Qalat al-Burak, an Ottoman fortress dating back to the 17th century is located near the pools. The fortress was built to protect Solomon's Pools water source.


Every year on May 5, there is a pilgrimage to theal-Khader Church, which was built in 1600 AD and rebuilt in 1912. The pilgrimage is in honor of Saint George (in Arabic al-Khader), the soldier monk who slew the dragon; he is venerated for being able to ward off the evil eye.

Islamic tradition has it that he left his native Lydda, where he was born, and settled here in this village which bears his name. Muslims and Christians come together annually on this day to celebrate their common protector, to whom many different blessings are attributed.

Saint George is also the patron saint of farmers, travelers and the mentally sick. According to a popular belief, lunatics were chained to a ring in the walls of the courtyard here in order for them to be delivered from their insanity due to the intervention of Saint George.


The Green Market has existed since 1929 on the square opposite the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Tradesmen and farmers from the Bethlehem area and even Hebron come here to sell their fresh produce. This picturesque spot was renovated in 1999 as part of the Bethlehem 2000 project.


Located at the corner of Paul VI Street and Manger Square, the mosque was built in honour of the second Caliph, Omar Ibn al-Khattab.

A companion of the Prophet Mohammed and his father-in-law, he entered Bethlehem after taking Jerusalem and prayed in the southern aisle of the Basilica of the Nativity. However, he guaranteed that the Basilica would remain a Christian place of worship in the Pact of Omar, which stipulated that Muslims would be allowed to pray here only individually and which prohibited calling for prayer (al-Adan) from the church walls.


Located south of the Church of Nativity and in close proximity to Manger Square, Anatra Quarter is a prototype of the hosh clusters, housing complexes of small-scale harmonious buildings of similar colour and texture with residential, commercial and institutional functions.


Visit the Arab Women's Union Museum just off Manger Street.

In this museum you will find recreated a diwan (a traditional living room) and displays of traditional clothing, jewelry, old photos, and personal items from the British Mandate era. A tour of the museum offers a taste of the gracious refinement Palestinian families enjoyed in the pre-1948 era


At the entry to Bethlehem, the centre has a small museum (one may try on traditional Palestinian clothing), and a gift shop with extremely beautiful embroidery work, among other products. The proprietress who is an embroidery expert, will gladly present her collection.


The olive press (al-Najajra Street) is the only press conserved in the Old City and dates back to 1792. It is a reminder of the all-importance of the olive tree in the life of Bethlehem and of Palestine as a whole.


In Arabic, idbaa means" creativity". Inaugurated in 1995, the centre offers a wide range of activities (day-care centre, bookshop, Internet centre, oral history project, to name a few).

Ibdaa also owes its reputation to the 60 young people in its famous folk dance troupe. It is a good place to meet foreigners, who come to learn more about the situation of the refugees, their status, rights and claims.


Founded in 1983 by Palestinian Muslim and Christian community leaders, Al-Liqa' ("the meeting" in Arabic) aims at furthering dialogue between the different religious communities.

It organizes and participates in frequent conferences and publishes a newspaper in English: Al-Liqa' Newspaper focuses on issues such as the Palestinian historical heritage and the religious patrimony of Muslims and Christians.


Approximately two kilometers west of Bethlehem is Beit Jala, a town set among olive groves and vineyards with stunning stone masonry and a spectacular view of Jerusalem. The town's unique location and moderate weather make it a popular summer destination for visitors in search of a clean, peaceful environment and beautiful scenery.

In recent year, Beit Jala has become well known for its modern hotels and good restaurants, which offer a variety of food to please different tastes. Olive oil is one of the town's main products. It has a unique taste characteristic of the trees in the area. One of the most important sights in Beit Jala is the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, established in 1925 and named for the patron saint of Beit Jala.


Beit Sahour is located southeast of Bethlehem. It is the scene of the fields of olives, well-known as Shepherd's Field, the place where the angel announced to the shepherds the birth of Jesus Christ.

There are two points of interest here: a Franciscan chapel, and a Greek Orthodox church that was built over a cave in the fifth century. There also are some exceptionally old olive trees in the field. While in the town, be sure to ask about the Beit Sahour Municipality Folklore Museum.


Wadi Artas is a fine example of the fertility of Palestinian valleys. Its ideal landscape calls to mind the paradise lost, said to have been King Solomon's garden, which was said to have inspired The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, in the Old Testament "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse. A spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits;" (Song of Solomon 4:12-13). The name Artas, more recent, is derived from the Latin hortus, or "garden". Nowadays, the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden and the Convent Hortus Conclusus symbolically associate the image of Mary with her virginity and fertility.

Located just above the mosque, is The Artas Folklore Centre which was created to preserve the local rural heritage and contributes to the preservation of customs and traditional practices, by producing documents on Palestinian culture and collecting archives. The Palestinian Ethnographic Centre (museum) is a fascinating part of the project. It is responsible for several old houses, recently renovated, on a site inhabited for thousands of years. In addition to a tour of the homes and museum, the Centre will also serve a traditional Palestinian meal and organize an evening with folk music and dancing (for a minimum of 10 people). The Artas Lettuce Festival takes place every year from March 21 to April 11, featuring Palestinian Dabka (folk dancing) contests and horse races.

A Stroll in Wadi Artas, from Qal'at al-Buraq to Herodion.

Spring is without question the best season for a walk in Wadi Artas, when the scenery is at its greenest and flowers are everywhere. It is an easy three-kilometre walk in the wadi to Solomon's Pools. Between the second and third pool, one finds the old pumping stations first installed by the Germans, and then by the British at the beginning of the last century. The road traverses a hill where there are ruins of a Roman village called Khirbet al-Khoch, which some think was the biblical villageof Etam. Herodion is located twelve kilometers away from Artas.


Jericho, the city of Palms, is the oldest inhabited city on Earth, dating back almost 12.000 years. Excavations at the Tel-Al-Sultan ruins show Jericho settlements as early as 10.000 B.C.E. It has an abundance of water sources, and it is believed that the fresh spring water at Tel-al-Sultan is the reason for early inhabitance in Jericho. Its original name, Yereha (perfume), signified its lushness and is preserved in its present Arabic name, Ariha.

Because it is near the Dead Sea, which is more than 400 meters below sea level, Jericho stays warm throughout the year. Jesus Christ walked through the streets of Jericho during his several visits to the town. It is a wonderful area for touring monasteries and historical sites. For hiking enthusiasts, Jericho has enjoyable, scenic routes.

One of the majestic sites in Jerichois the Monastery of St. George, carved out of a canyon wall overlooking the Wadi Qelt gorge. This Greek Orthodox monastery was originally built in the fifth century as a spiritual center for hermits.

Another majestic site is HishamPalace. This beautiful desert ruin of Umayyad Caliph Hisham Ibn Abdul Malik was completed in the eighth century. Hisham Palace contains royal buildings, a mosque, fountains, and spectacular mosaic floors. Tourists enjoy the remarkable open-air presentation with a walking tour through temples and lush mosaics. Many of the most delicate artifacts from Hisham Palace are at the Rockfeller Museum in Jerusalem.

Qumran, which is about 20 kilometers south of Jericho, is the site of the Monastery of Essenes, where more than 2.000 Dead Sea scrolls were founded by an Arab shepherd in the late 1940s.

Nabi Musa is a beautiful 12th century mazar (pilgrimage shrine) on the old pilgrim road. Believed to be the spot where the prophet Moses is buried, it is named after him. From Nabi Musa a track runs due west to the Byzantine cave monastery in Wadi Mukelik and continues on to Khan el-Ahmar.


Nablus, approximately 63 kilometers north of Jerusalem, is the second largest city in the West Bank. It is thriving industrial and trade center full of archeological sites and ruins in varying stages of excavation. Visitors have been particularly enthralled with the Roman Theater near the heart of the city. It has a steady stream of visitors throughout the year.

Nablus is known around the world for its exquisite olives, olive oil, and olive-wood products. In the Old City, one can wander for hours through the market. Nablus is famous for its appetizing sweets. Sampling knafe, made from a delicate combination of melted cheese, shredded grain, and a sugary honey sauce, is a must for any visitor to Nablus.

Another significant site is Jacob's Well, 2 kilometers east of Nablus by the village of Balata. It's the site where Jesus s said to have asked a Samaritan woman to draw water from a well for him. Today Jacob's Well is located in a Greek Orthodox monastery and is open to the public.

Soap in Nablus has been made for years from soda and olive oil. Although the manufacturing methods have changed slightly over the years, soap made in Nablus is still renowned for its purity and is exported throughout markets in the Middle East.

Several traditional soap factories in Nablus offer tours of their soap-making process. The soap is made from olive oil, so it's a slippery tour. After the soap tour, you can test your samples at one of the city's recently restored Turkish baths.

The rooftops of Nablus and surrounding villages, such as Kor, often include a keyzan, which allows a person to look outside without being seen. This distinctive triangular motif is a natural air conditioner because it collects and cools rain water inside its clay vessels.


The twin cities Ramallah and El-Bireh are 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem. Built across several hills some 900 meters above sea level, Ramallah also is known as "The Bride of Palestine. " Its pleasant, temperate climate makes it a favorite summer resort, and the town hosts dance and folklore festivals throughout the summer.

Ramallah is very well serviced for visitors, with comfortable places to stay, some of Palestine's best restaurants, good transport and other tourism-related services, and hospitable, friendly people.

El-Bireh was first built by the Canaanites. It is known as a center of learning and for its political and cultural actives. The Friends Boys School was established here in 1886, the Palestinian Legislative Council is located in the town, and Joseph and Mary rested here on their return trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth.

The cool summer climate, the physical proximity of Jerusalem, and the relatively peaceful atmosphere make it and ideal break for a night or two.


Al Khalil Situated to the south of Bethlehem, Hebron is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the world. History shows the Canaanites were living in Hebron as early as 2000 B.C.E. It is believed that Adam and Eve lived in Hebron after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike as the burial place of Abraham, Al – Khalil. The Abraham Mosque, which houses the tombs of the Patriarchs, dominates the city center's landscape. Inside the mosque, stunning stained – glass windows soften and transform sunlight falling upon the marble floors and stone–inscribed walls. The huge symmetric stones in the walls of this mosque are in the style of Herod the Great. Hebron is known for its lush grape vineyards, pottery, glassware, leatherworks, and other inventive arts. Lively, colorful, and creative are the most common words used by tourists to describe this city.

To the north of town are the famous Hebron glass factories, world-renowned for producing exquisite blue glass. Visitors can watch the process of glass blowing from beginning to end and choose from a colorful selection of vases, jars, and ornaments. Visitors also can find interesting pottery in Hebron, some of it painted and other pieces left natural. Fanciers of leather goods will want to check out Hebron tanneries. Hebron also is famous for its beautiful for its beautiful colorful rugs.

Hebron market (souq) is a wonderful adventure of arched roofs, alleyways, and shops, where you can buy everything from olive wood, spices, dried fruits (the raisins are particularly delicious), jewelry, and avant-garde baskets made from old rubber tires. In step with its focus on the arts, Hebron is creating a museum for archeological and cultural artifacts in an old hammam (bathhouse).

Approximately 3 kilometers north of the town center is the Beit Ilanim site, where an angel told Abraham and Sarah that she would bear a son, Isaac. Another compelling site is Masqobiya, where a huge oak tree stands, indicating the place where Abraham invited the angels to rest and eat.


Located in the northern part of Palestine, Jenin lies on the border of the Samarian Hills. It served as a transit station on the trade road. Jenin is the ancient En-gannim of the Bible and is the same village referred to as Ginaea. The Romans were the first to name the city of Jenin in the sixth century. The name was derived from Ein Ganim, meaning the spring of Ganim and referring to the region's plentiful springs. It was 4 kilometers from Jenin, at the village of Burqin, where Jesus cured the 10 lepers residing in a cave at the edge of the village. Today visitors can see interesting ruins of a Byzantine church, which was built on the cave.

Jenin was occupied by the Crusaders in 1103 and then liberated by the Muslim leader Salah Din Al-Ayyoubi in 1187 during the famous Battle of Hitteen.

A beautiful drive through the countryside takes you to Jenin, where you may enjoy the delicious shish kebab and musakhan dishes. Jenin is a characteristic oriental town, with its houses built on the slopes of a hill and surrounded by gardens of carob, fig, and palm trees that are irrigated by a tiny brook.

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