For Christian pilgrims traveling to Israel, visiting Bethlehem from Jerusalem, is a simple matter, especially since the terminal and transportation system between Jerusalem and Bethlehem has been upgraded with special fast lanes for visitors traveling between them. Furthermore the Israeli Ministry of Tourism office has also began cooperation with private Palestinian and Israeli partners to improve the crossing areas, as well as having Ministry personnel available or on call at border crossing areas in case of unanticipated issues.
Very near to Jerusalem you’ll find the city of Bethlehem, within the territory of the Palestinian Authority, birth city to both King David and Jesus. There are early written history of Bethlehem in 248 AD by Origen, whom wrote during his Holy Land visit, “In Bethlehem you are shown the cave where He was born, and, within the cave, the manger where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. These things that they show you are common knowledge in the district, even among those who do not share a Christian faith. They admit, that Jesus whom Christians adore was born in this cave.” (Contra Celsum 51).
The Scriptures have deep roots in Bethlehem to the times of the Patriarchs, pointed out by Rachel’s Tomb just a short distance from town. At Beit Sahour, the Shepherds’ Fields near Bethlehem, an angel proclaimed to a shepherd boy the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8-20 ) in a manger in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7 ). Today in the Holy Land and what is believed to be the traditional site of the manger you’ll find The Basilica of the Nativity, virtually unchanged since the fourth century, standing over the birth grotto of Jesus.
Bethlehem offers a spiritual rewarding journey for Christians touring the Holy Land, and today is home to perhaps the oldest Christian community known to man. This famous bible city also goes by the name Bet Lehem, Beth-Lehem, Beit Sahur, Betar, and the “City of David.” The holy city is supported greatly by tourism, specially Catholics and Christians traveling on Holy Land tours visiting the Basilica of the Nativity, after all the church is the oldest church in the holy land region, constructed in the 4th century by Saint Helena.
The City of David is an important holy site destination hosting thousands of Christian pilgrims and specially in the Christmas season. This pilgrim tradition dates back nearly two millennia, and today the tradition is stronger then ever with completely sold out hotels in the region and full flights to the Holy Land. Besides Bethlehem being an important Christian holy land tour destination, it is also of significant importance to Jewish pilgrims who visit the holy site of Rachel’s Tomb, regardless of faith, Bethlehem remains one of the most sought after destinations to visit when traveling to the Holy Land region.