Nowadays, it is hard to imagine a place where within only 150 meters church bells are ringing and a muezzin is calling for the prayer from a minaret. In the centre of Bethlehem located at the Manger Place you will find both coming from the Christian Church of Nativity and the Omar mosque. Here Muslims and Christians live together – peacefully!
The Manger place in Bethlehem. For an 360°-experience, click on the image!
During our journey through Palestine Conflictfood also explored the city of Bethlehem for one week. The traditional cityscape of Bethlehem has been influenced by all those different dynasties that used to rule this place. When you are strolling through the century-old alleys you will encounter impressive churches, venerable monasteries and mosques. Arabic, Byzantine, Turkish and Roman influences build a unique foundation for a multi-cultural hub.
In 2012 the UNESCO declared the Church of Nativity and the ancient pilgrim’s path leading to Bethlehem a world heritage. And despite of the ongoing Middle East conflict millions of people still visit this spiritual place.
At Christmas time, the Church of Nativity is illuminated with an especially festive atmosphere. Build around 326 BC at the alleged place of birth of Jesus, the building marks the centre of Christian belief at Christmas season. Almost everyone knows the story of Maria and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem and her giving birth to their son, the leading figure of Christianity.
Inside the vaulted cellars of the Church of Nativity. For an 360°-experience, click on the image!
Friendship and common grounds
Located in the Palestinian mountains this city is not only a pilgrim’s place for Christians, but also attracts people from other religions – in Jewish narratives it is the birth place of the legendary King David and prophet Muhammad stopped here for a prayer while travelling to Jerusalem.
Since 1995 Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories. Today around 30.000 people are living in city. According to a survey of the Palestinian Centre for Research and Cultural Dialogue, 90 % of the Christian population indicated that they have Muslim friends and 73 % believe that the Palestinian Authority respects the Christian heritage of the city.
An Arabic Bible
Bethlehem’s colourful alleys
Jesus of Nazareth – the son of Maria (Īsā ibn Maryam) – plays an important role in Islam, he is one of the major prophets. That is why Muslims honour his birthplace, too. Maybe it is this unifying religious spirit that saved the Nativity Church from being destroyed over the past centuries.
Exactly, this reflection and communication of shared religious beliefs and values is able to bring around and safe peace. With this in mind, Conflictfood wishes you peaceful holidays, or like the people from Bethlehem would say:
‘a glorious birth feast’, Eid Milad Majid!