Religious Sites Bethlehem
The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
The Church of the Nativity, located at the heart of Bethlehem, is a shrine that is considered to be one of the oldest existing Christian churches. It is revered as among Christianity’s most sacred sites as it is believed to mark the place of Christ’s birth. The church is jointly regulated by three Christian denominations namely the Armenian Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In all three you can light a candle and make a prayer.
The church was established in 327 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena. It was built over the cave that is believed to be the birthplace of Christ. The first evidence of this cave being honored as Christ’s birthplace was in the writings of Saint Justin, martyr, at around 160 AD. This tradition was further authenticated by Eusebius and Origen during the 3rd century.
The Church of the Nativity features the Chapel of the Manger, Grotto of the Nativity and a Silver Star on the floor that marks the exact place where Christ was born. There is a narrow rectangular entrance to the church which is called the Door of Humility. Inside the church there are wall and floor mosaics, 44 columns, 30 of which exhibit paintings of Jesus and Mary and the saints and an octagonal baptismal font.
Accessible to handicapped and senior guests
April – September (summer) 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM
October – March (winter) 5:30 AM to 5:00 PM
On Sunday mornings the Grotto of the Nativity is closed.