The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is situated 10km south of Jerusalem on a steep-sided ridge on the western mountains of the Dead Sea depression. It is a major Christian holy site, the church was first completed there in 339 A.D. built atop a cave as it marks the traditional place of Christ’s birth, the site was identified by Christian tradition since the 2nd century, and should be honored by everyone. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating Christian churches in the world and in the Holy Land (founded in 325).
A church was first completed there in 339 A.D. built atop a cave and the edifice that rebuilt and completed in 533 AD, after a fire retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original edifice – is among the holiest sites in Christianity as well as to Muslims.
The importance of Bethlehem to Christianity came to the forefront in the fourth century, it was one of three imperial churches in Palestine. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was erected on the orders of the Roman Emperor Constantine the first Roman emperor (the Great) in 330 CE, when he declared Christianity as the official religion of the empire. Helena, his mother went to the Holy Land to commemorate the event, and to find and document sites important to Christianity.
Helena believed she had found the spot where Jesus was born in Bethlehem and asked her son to build the Church of the Nativity.
Since then, Bethlehem continues to attract pilgrims to Jesus’ birthplace
The Christian shrine, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the Palestine’s first world heritage site which could make history and was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as it is suffering from damages due to water leaks. The UNESCO declared Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and the nearby religious pilgrimage route World Heritage sites on Friday 29/6/2012. The nearby pilgrimages include Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is considered Palestine’s top tourism destination partly due to the religious significance of the church.