Cave of the Nativity, Israel, West Bank

Idea About: place

Country: Israel
The Altar of the Nativity with the star marking the place where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

The Altar of the Nativity with the star marking the place where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.   Public domain

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Idea Description

General Information

Country: Israel (6)
Location Info:  City: Bethlehem  Province/State: West Bank
Idea About: place (99)
Type of Travel: city (11) | history (63)
Features: mystery (28) | pilgrimage (24) | sacred place and sanctuary (40) | shrine (15)
Recommended for: family (60) | senior (53) | single (48) | student (49)
Budget: budget (80) | mainstream (85) | expensive (42)
Region: Middle East (9)


The Cave or Grotto of the Nativity is in Bethlehem, Israel, only ten-minute drive from Jerusalem. The cave, the most sacred place of Christians, is located beneath the Church of the Nativity built in the 4th century by Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine. The Church of the Nativity, the oldest church in the Holy Land, guards like a citadel the cave where it is believed Jesus was born. The main entrance to the Church of the Nativity is a small Door of Humility, which visitors must enter bending over. They say that the size of the door did not allow mounted horsemen to enter the basilica during the Ottoman Empire rule. You can get into The Grotto of the Nativity through two doorways on either side of the church, two stairs lead down to the Cave of The Nativity. On the spot where Jesus is said to have been born there is The Altar of the Nativity. The place of birth is marked by a hole in the marble floor below the alter, surrounded by a silver star and silver lamps. The Cave of The Nativity is controlled jointly by three Christian denominations: the Armenian Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church.

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What Makes It Special

The Cave of the Nativity located in the heart of Bethlehem is one of the Christianity's most sacred sites - the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The Church of the Nativity is considered to be an oldest church in the world. The cave and the church were a holy place of pilgrimage for many world religions for millennia, and nowadays it remains to be the holiest place for millions of Christians.

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Directions To Destination

The church is located in Bethlehem city center, Manger square, West Bank, 6.2 miles (10 km) south of Jerusalem. Directions from Jerusalem:
- By bus: take Bus 22 from the Damascus Gate Bus Station to Bethlehem
- By Car: drive south out of Jerusalem. Just north of Rachel's Tomb, at 5 miles (8 km) from Jerusalem, is the checkpoint for entering the Palestinian area of Bethlehem. The road divides. Turn left into Bethlehem and continue up the hill to Manger Square on the right. Before Manger Square you will find bus station - next to it is the parking lot.

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Best Time To Go

All year round. Consider visiting the area during Christmas time where the place is especially beautiful.

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Where To Stay

Our recommendations are:
- The Montefiore Hotel - rates starting from $125, holidays $150. Located in Jerusalem city center with famous Angelica restaurant. Israeli breakfast buffet included.
- Bethlehem Hotel - rates from $55, located in Bethlehem on Manger Street about 500 meters from Manger Square. Research and book hotels in or near Jerusalem, Israel

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- Franciscan Church of St Catherine (December 24 midnight mass broadcast around the world).
- Rachel's Tomb, the burial place of the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin is the second most important historical site in Bethlehem. (Genesis 35:19-20).
- The Milk Grotto Chapel, where Mary believed to spill a few drops of breast milk while feeding Jesus, turning the cavern milky white.
- The Mosque of Omar. A mosque is functioning. Beautiful on the outside.
- Solomon's Pools.
- The Old Town.

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Useful Visitor Information and Tips

Open: In Winter daily 8 am -5 pm.; In Summer daily 7am - 6 pm. Admission is free. There are several services in the church daily. Consider visiting the area during Christmas time. All of the Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem are held on Manger Square, with an enormous Christmas tree in the middle of it. Locals and pilgrims sing Christmas carols before the midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity. The whole setting is beautiful and peaceful.

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Additional Information

Tags: Bethlehem; Cave of the Nativity; Christianity (2); Christians (2); Church of the Nativity; Franciscan Church of St Catherine; Israel (6); Jerusalem (3); Jesus (2); Manger square; Milk Grotto Chapel; Mosque of Omar; Pilgrimage (14); Rachels Tomb; Solomons Pools; West Bank

Web Sites:   Ministry of Tourism, Government of Israel | (mentioned 2 times on Naviquan)

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