""Oh Little Town of Bethlehem..."" Top 5 Page for this destination Bethlehem by jadedmuse
Bethlehem Travel Guide: 133 reviews and 544 photos
Bethlehem. Fabled birthsite of Jesus.
Manger Square. Contemporary site of....well....lots of religious pilgrims, the Church of the Nativity, more pilgrims, a mosque, more pilgrims....
Don't be surprised to learn that there's the usual in-fighting going on between the religious factions controlling the Church of the Nativity (the usual suspects: Greek Orthodox, Catholics, and Armenians).
And if you think I'm just spouting something from a guide book, see for yourself. The tension is palpable...from the Palestinian Authority figures standing guard outside the doors to the Nativity, to the very pilgrims themselves. I was nearly shoved into a wall by an overly zealous tourist (whose country shall remain nameless!). I'm still trying to figure out what it was we were supposed to be looking at.
Pope John Paul II had just visited Bethlehem a few months before I arrived, so the town was still proudly displaying all the banners and signs welcoming the Pope. In fact, the stage from which he'd given mass was still up and occupying one side of Manger Square.
The locals are quite friendly - I asked one gentleman who was sitting outside his shop, if he believed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and if so, was that Church really the place where it all happened. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said that this is what has always been said, so it must be true (my friend translated the Arabic for me).
And here's the thing I love about these religious sites - if it's not the sites themselves that remind you of what Faith can mean, then it's the hundreds of thousands of tourists who do.
And in the end, if one of those tourists should become a little over enthusiastic and you lose sight of why you're there in the first place - then you can always count on a local to provide a reality check.
Mostly the Arabic men are seen smoking narghila as a relaxing pastime before, during and especially after, a meal. I'm... more travel advice
Since you're in Israel/Palestinian Territories, chances are you're going to be running the gauntlet of religious... more travel advice
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