"B E T H L E H E M 'house of..." Israel Things to Do Tip by Goner
Israel Things to Do: 781 reviews and 1,392 photos
B E T H L E H E M 'house of bread' When we were traveling in 1999, the borders between Palestine and Israel were much more lax. We went there to visit the Church of the Nativity which was an awesome experience. As you enter, the doorway is less than five feet high. We had to stoop to enter this ancient church which was conceived and built by Constantine's ambitious mother, the Empress Helena.
You pass through the low outer door into a short passageway, and through another equally low doorway into a vast and tall open space. In the darkness you can make out the elaborate markings of an Orthodox icon screen at the far end of the room, votive candles, and strings of what appear to be Christmas tree lights, but are some kind of electrified sanctuary lights on strings draped all over the place. The doorway is said to be so low and small to prevent the Crusaders from riding in on horseback.
You must kneel and place your hand in the hole to touch the stone of the cave that most Christians believe was where Jesus was born. My feeling was that this was truly the place of Christ's birth. The exterior of the church are crumbling, in much need of repair as is the interior. It must be in worse condition now.
Bethlehem was also the birthplace of David.
Directions: Bethlehem is an Arab city on Mount Judah, in Palestine 7 km south of Jerusalem.
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