In Bethlehem, it seems that everyday is Christmas Day. After all, this is where the most famous birth story took place. But despite being the birthplace of the “Prince of Peace”, Bethlehem has been at the center of numerous territorial disputes for over two thousand years. That’s why this sign particularly struck me when I visited the city during a pilgrimage a couple of years ago.
Bethlehem is also known as the City of David in the Hebrew Bible. But for Christians, it is an important pilgrimage site and is home to perhaps one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
Today, Bethlehem is under Palestenian rule and is perhaps one of its most popular tourist attractions, receiving more than two million tourists a year.
The center of Bethlehem is its old city which consists of eight quarters, laid out in a mosaic style, forming the area around the Manger Square where the Church of Nativity is located. (source) Walking around, it’s hard to imagine that this bustling city was once surrounded by endless fields and desert. But despite its modernity, one can catch glimpses of what the city may have looked like when Christ was born.
READ NEXT: The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem