Top Things To Do in Bethlehem - Bringing Bethlehem to life

Explore Bethlehem through the Artza Holy Land blog. A pilgrimage through the country and discover the beauty and culture of the birthplace of Christianity.

a stone arch on the beach with the ocean in the background
By Daniel Goodman

Updated April 16, 2024.


Embark on a journey and travel to the Holy Land through the lens of the 'Holy Land Artza Blog' series.

Discover the Holy Land's Rich Culture & History in Bethlehem, Israel.

In this series, you will be taken on an immersive journey through the Holy Land. Exploring ancient, biblical, and modern stories, magnificent scenery, flavors, traditions, sites, and most importantly of all - we will introduce you to the people that call this place home.

Along the journey, you will meet all of the Israeli artisans and charities that we help support and explore the rich culture, history, and beauty of Israel. And for those of you who want a fully immersive experience of the land where Jesus walked, our Artza subscription box is designed to do just that. Delivered quarterly, each locally sourced Artza box is packed with gorgeous, handcrafted gifts, foods, local spices, content, stories, scripture, and so much more! Delivered from the Holy Land directly to your home.

Location: Bethlehem, Israel

Our journey continues in Bethlehem, Israel. Bethlehem holds a significant place in the history of Christianity and its connection to Jesus is a central part of the faith for many Christians. Bethlehem was the location where Jesus was born.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:7

Where does the name Bethlehem come from?

The name "Bethlehem" is derived from the Arabic word 'bêth lehem', which means 'house of meat.'

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst" - John 6:35.

The name Bethlehem has symbolic and biblical significance for Jews and Christians.

Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus.

Mary, pregnant with a child, left her hometown of Nazareth and travelled to Bethlehem, to register in a national census. Once there, they sought a place to sleep, but there were no rooms in the local inn. The innkeeper let them stay in the manger, where the animals were kept. The manger was a cave or grotto, and here it is believed Jesus was born.

Many years later, in the 4th century, the Church of the Nativity was built around what is believed by many to be the Holy Grotto, and visitors to Bethlehem can worship at this site. Today Christian sites in Bethlehem include Manger Square and St. Catherine's Church adjacent to the Nativity Church.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." - Micah 5:2

Top things to do in Bethlehem, Israel.

The Church of the Nativity: The Church of the Nativity is considered by many to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ and is one of the oldest churches in the world.

The Milk Grotto: The Milk Grotto is a Christian site in Bethlehem believed to be where the Mary nursed Jesus. It is a place of pilgrimage for Christians, and many come here to pray.

The Tomb of Rachel: The Tomb of Rachel is revered by Jews and Christians as the burial place of the matriarch. The Tomb of Rachel is important as it is believed to be the final resting place of the matriarch Rachel, who is regarded as an important biblical figure and is remembered as the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, two of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is also considered a significant place of pilgrimage, where many come to pay homage to Rachel and to seek blessings.

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb." - Genesis 35:19-20

Manger Square: This square is located in front of the Church of the Nativity and is named after the manger where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. Manger Square is a major gathering place for Christians during Christmas celebrations and is considered to be an important site for Christian pilgrims visiting Bethlehem.

Where does the name Magner Square come from?

Manger Square is named after the manger where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. The word "manger" comes from the French word "manger," which means "to eat." In the Christian tradition, the manger is the feeding trough in a stable where the infant Jesus was placed after his birth.

hand carved Christmas tree ornaments olive wood bethlehem

Why Did Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem?

Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to participate in a census ordered by Caesar Augustus. This was ultimately so that everyone could be accounted for and pay taxes.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. " - Luke 2:2.

Everyone was to be registered in their own city, so Mary and Joseph had to return to Joseph's home city - Bethlehem in Judea. Bethlehem at the time was called David's city, and Joseph was of the descent from David.

What Does the Star of Bethlehem Mean in Christianity?

The star of Bethlehem is one of the most recognized symbols in Christianity as it represents the hope that came with the birth of Jesus. It is also now used regularly as part of the Christmas tradition of placing the star on top of the tree.

Distance from Jerusalem: Bethlehem to Jerusalem is approximately 8.89 kilometres (5 miles).

As we come to the close of our ninth Holy Land Artza Blog which takes you on a journey through Israel with us, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your participation. It has been a privilege to share with you the beauty, culture and traditions of this land that holds such a special place in our hearts thus far, and we are so excited for what is to come! For those who seek a deeper connection to the Holy Land, our Artza subscription boxes are the next best thing to actually travelling to Israel, it is the best way to bring the Holy Land to your doorstep. Each Artza box is sent to you from a different region in Israel, and it is packed with up to eight stunning hand-crafted gifts, local foods, spices, art, scripture, ceramics and so much more - each carefully chosen from the local artisans and charities of that specific region - with the aim of bringing the Holy Land to life in the most meaningful and immersive way possible. This is your chance to experience the beauty of the Holy Land and to support the people of Israel. We look forward to welcoming you back soon and providing you with the next Holy Land Artza Blog, and of course, welcome to ISRAEL!