This town to the southeast of Jerusalem is inscribed on the Heritage List for one reason. It is by tradition the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes several hundred properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Official title: Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
Date of Inscription: 2012
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 1433:
“The inscribed property is situated 10km south of Jerusalem on the site identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus since the 2nd century. A church was first completed there in 339 A.D. and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original edifice. The site also includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.”
I took a local bus from Jerusalem to visit the alleged place of Christ’s birth. The church (the picture above shows the entrance where you will have to bow when you enter) and place itself proved a disappointment. I found the local market and the great view of the fields surrounding the town more interesting. It was however a good feeling having been there, especially for a person who had his upbringing in a Christian country. As such this site is a must on anyone’s itinerary to Israel and Palestine.
Read more about my visit.
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