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Palestina, Bethlehem – A Short Trip from Israel

Published: 28.5.2018
Before we head back to the south of Israel to the city of Eilat, we make a short trip outside to the neighboring state. Palestine. Less than 4 million inhabitants live there, mostly Muslims and Arabic speakers here. There are ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine stemming from territorial disputes and delimitation of borders.

Before our trip, we had a lot to consider whether to go to Palestine at all, but a visit tostreets of Jeruselam Bethlehem really tempted us. The only inconvenience should be strict controls at the borders. To our surprise, both a customs check and a check at our departure were not carried out, nor were there any soldiers at the border. The whole trip also took place without the slightest problems.

The town of Bethlehem lies 8 km south of Jerusalem. Less than 30,000 inhabitants live here, Muslims are increasingly prevalent. Previously it was not like this. About 75% of Christians lived in Bethlehem, today it is only about a few percent. The reason is the poor economic situation and worse conditions for education.

We walk down narrow aisle with light stone houses, which our guide describes as the streets of Star. This way we reach to Betlehem's main square – Manger Square. The street of Star are hard to find in map. It goes by the name of Star because Jesus was born near from here and the place of his birth was marked by silver star. In this street, star hangs on many houses. Menger Square is quite a lively place Street, we get to the main square of Bethlehem - Manger Square. Star We look hard on the maps, but it's got its name because the place where Jesus was born was marked with a silver star. There is also a star on this street on many streets. The Manger Square is quite a lively place. There are a lot of tourists, Arab merchants, taxi drivers and, of course, police officers.

In Star street  In Star street  In the street of the Star

Right in front of us there is one of the most holy of Christian - Church of the Nativity which was built above the place where Jesus of Nazareth was born. It is also one of the oldest churches in the world, dating back to 327. Since 2012, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A small stone passage enters the temple so that every visitor is forced to bend and worship with this worship. The interior of the church is littered with incense and crowded with tourists who are trying to get right to the place of Jesus' birth. Prayers are constantly sang in many languages, visitors touch the place of birth, and then proceed to another part of the church. There is a reconstruction at the moment, mostly faded paintings, where restaurateurs worked also during our visit.

Nativity church   approaching the place of birth

Nativity Church  Nativity Church – the place of birth  Nativity church – the place of birth

After the tour we continue to Franciscan church of St Catherine situated next to the temple. The statue of St. Jerome. In this church, the Holy Mass is being held on Christmas Eve, which is broadcast all over the world.

courtyard in front of the church of St. Catherine, in the middle of the statue of St. Jerome  inside the church of St. Catherine  Milk Grotto

Our next stop is Milk Grotto, located on the same street. Here was the Holy family before Herod's murder of the innocents. María here says she drank some milk on the ground while breastfeeding and colored the cave to white. Thanks to that, the cave also got its name.

Shepherds' Field

Our walk ends with a view of the plains, where the famous Shepherd's Fields lie, and now there suburbs Beit Sahur Betlehem. At this point the shepherds were proclaimed the birth of Jesus Christ.

GPS: 31°42'14.7"N 35°12'26.8"E

 

Text: Veronika Schubertová

Photos: Veronika Schubertová, Wikimeda Commons: Soman

 



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