Bethlehem Tour 2nd part; Church of Nativity and Milk Grotto

8-days Pinoy solo backpacking in Winter Israel
November 02 to November 10, 2013


Since Bethlehem is administered by the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli military checkpoint stands on the road connecting the two locations. When I was there, no checkpoint occurred entering from Jerusalem, around morning. When I went back to Jerusalem, I just simply flash my passport to a roaming Israeli soldier inside bus, no questions asked, just that. Tourists are free to enter and exit the checkpoint to Bethlehem and back to Jerusalem as many times as he or she would like without any restrictions. Make sure to bring passport with Israeli-issued tourist visa to enter and exit the Palestinian areas.

I visited this place on 7th of November, Thursday, 48 days before Christmas celebration. I went via self-guided trip using public bus and the maps on erected post along the road. Travel time was around 30 minutes for 7.3 shekels ($2.1) fare only. No payments to be made on crossborder checkpoints. When the bus arrived in Bethlehem bus terminal, there was this one cab driver who I had an argument due to his aggressive persuasion to take a cab rental whom I did not want to. I told him that I'd like to walk the Little town of Bethlehem by myself alone. He was completely surprise given the worldwide fact of political disputes and war inside this territory. I told him again I'm not scared because I know Palestinians are nice people. He let me passed-by and even helped pointing out where to head to the major tourist spots.

Bethlehem is a small city located some 10 km (6 miles) south of the Old City of Jerusalem within the West Bank, in an "Area A" zone administered by the Palestinian Authority. The "little town" of Bethlehem, mentioned in any number of Christmas carols, attracts pilgrims worldwide on account of its description in the New Testament (and particularly the Gospels) as the birthplace of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be Messiah and Son of God. The Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world, is the focus of Christian veneration within the city. Bethlehem is revered by Jews as the birthplace and home town of David, King of Israel.
http://wikitravel.org/en/Bethlehem
 
Grotto of the Nativity (beneath is the cave where Christ was born)

Church of the Nativity (beneath is the cave where Christ was born)

Church of the Nativity (beneath is the cave where Christ was born)

Grotto of the Nativity (beneath is the cave where Christ was born)

Church of the Nativity (the Holy Manger)

The Church of the Nativity is in Manger Square, undoubtedly the top attraction in Bethlehem, a veritable citadel built fortress-like on top of the cave where Jesus was born to Mary. It is one of the oldest churches in the world. Today, the structure is mostly sound but somewhat dark and gloomy in appearance, only the adjoining Franciscan Church of St Catherine (dated 1881 and the site of the yearly December 24 midnight mass broadcast around the world) being in excellent shape. The actual alleged site of Jesus' birth, is located in a cave in the church (the original Manger where Jesus was born was a cave, not a shed, as popularly depicted). The original Manger with the star marking Jesus' birth site is called the Grotto of the Nativity, and is accessible from inside the church. Entrance to the entire complex is free, but in the high season be prepared for massive crowds and hour-long waits for entry into the Grotto. 
http://wikitravel.org/en/Bethlehem

Christmas is celebrated three times a year in Bethlehem:
Catholics and Western denominations celebrate on December 25,
Greek Orthodox followers celebrate on January 6,
Armenians celebrate on January 18.

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto

Milk Grotto Chapel, where Mary supposedly spilled a few drops of breast milk while feeding Jesus as she hid before the Holy Family's escape to Egypt, turning the cavern milky white. It is open all day. The white powder scrapped from the cave is also sold as a fertility medicine inside the chapel.

Jerusalem city trip 1st part; Israel Museum and the Dead Sea scrolls
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much of thanks for visiting the viewing deck ^_^

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