Thursday, March 1, 2018

Church of the Nativity Tour, Palestine

Bethlehemبيت لحم, is located in the West Bank, Palestine.  It's about 10 km (6,2 miles) south of Jerusalem.  The city was founded around 1400 BC and today is home to about 25,000 people.  The city is famous as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

After our main tour, a smaller group was taken by bus in to Palestine to visit the Church of the Nativity.

The Church of the Nativity is a basilica that was completed in 339 AD.  The church was built over the cave where Jesus was born.

It was destroyed by fire in the 6th century.  A new basilica was built in 565 AD.

The church is managed by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, and Syriac Orthodox churches.  In 2012, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Major renovations began in September 2013.  I don't know how long it is expected to last but the completion date looks quite far off.

Beneath the church is the Grotto of the Nativity and an alter marks the spot where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.  The precise spot has a 14-point silver star on the floor.

After visiting the church we made our way back in to Israel where we met up with the rest of the tour group and headed back to Eilat.  It was a very long day but well worth it.

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