Bethlehem

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The tourist attractiveness of the historic center:

The “house of bread”, Bet Lehem, is a crucial bridge between the Old and New Testaments, having given birth to the great King David, a thousand years later, Jesus.

The Old Town, which currently has about 5000 inhabitants, is located in the center of Bethlehem and consists of eight neighborhoods, organized in mosaic style, around the Main Square: al-Najajreh, al-Farahiyeh, al-Anatreh, al-Tarajmeh, al-Qawawsa and Hreizat, Christian quarters, and al-Fawaghreh the only Muslim quarter. Most Christian neighborhoods have Arabic names because of the influence of the Arabs who settled here Ghassanids. The district of Al-Qawawsa was founded by Christian Arabs who emigrated from the nearby city of Tuqu ‘in the eighteenth century. There is also a Syriac quarter outside the Old City whose inhabitants originate from Midyat and Ma’asarte in Turkey.

The Manger Square is the nerve center of the city: it is in front of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Unesco Heritage since 2012, it was built by the Emperor Constantine in 323 and enlarged by Justinian in 531 on the site where an ancient tradition commemorates the birth of Jesus. Since 1852, according to a turkish decree, the Basilica belongs to the Franciscans, the Greek Orthodox, the Armenians. Inside there is the Grotto of the Nativity, the precise place where Jesus would have seen the light. Right next to the Basilica of the Nativity stands the Church of St. Catherine, built in the XIX century on the ruins of the ancient monastery of St. Jerome, which preserves the medieval cloister; from the inside you can access a series of caves, the most striking of which is the Grotta di San Giuseppe. Always near the Manger Square is the Milk Grotto, where according to legend, Mary found shelter and nursed Jesus. Of great importance is also Rachel’s Tomb, an important place of worship for the Muslim population, but also to the Jewish, here praying for good marriages and many children.

The tourist attractiveness of the surroundings geographic:

A 2 km from the town of Bethlehem, in the village of Beit Sahour, is the sanctuary of the Shepherds’ Field, to identify the place where, according to tradition, the shepherds received the announcement of the birth of Jesus; in the same area, excavations carried out between 1951 and 1952 have unearthed the remains of what looks like a real agricultural community dating from precisely the time when the events described took place.

At about ten km from Bethlehem, in the Judean desert, you can visit the Herodion archaeological site, now a national park: it is a truncated cone-shaped hill on which the remains of a majestic Palace-were found fortress attributable to Herod the Great, whose tomb was found at the same site in 2007.

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