Bethlehem: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Bethlehem.

  • Bethlehem is a city in the West Bank, an area that was once part of Israel, is now part of the Palestinian Territories. It has a population of about 25,000 and attracts many tourists.
  • The city is one of the oldest in the world, having been inhabited since at least 2,000 BC. It is also home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.
  • According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. A 14 pointed star on the floor of the Church of the Nativity marks the spot where Jesus was born.
  • Parts of the Church of the Nativity date back to 327 AD. The church was designated a World Heritage Site in 2012, the first site in Palestine to be listed.
  • Another holy site in Bethlehem is the Milk Grotto, where the Holy Family hid before fleeing to Egypt. Apparently, milk from the Virgin Mary fell on the ground, turning the rock white.
Bethlehem
Bethlehem in the 19th century
  • The Mount of Olives has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years. An estimated 150,000 people have been buried there since the 15th century.
  • Just outside Bethlehem is the 5th century Monastery of St. Theodosius. It was supposedly built over the spot where the Three Wise Men stopped to rest.
  • Jerusalem, located just five miles from Bethlehem, is important to Christians because it was where he died. Golgotha (the site of the crucifixion) is located just outside the city walls.
  • Jerusalem is home to over 60 museums, and over 70 artistic and cultural centres. The city and nearby area also have over 20 vineyards.
  • Jerusalem has over 2,000 archaeological sites and over 1,500 parks, gardens and open spaces. The Botanical Gardens have over 6,000 species of plant.
  • There are over 20 towns and cities named Bethlehem in the United States. There are also Bethlehems in other countries, including Wales, Switzerland, South Africa and New Zealand.

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