Welcome to Bethlehem - the birthplace of Jesus, and the end of our walk. Like Mary and Joseph, you’ve travelled across the Holy Land from Nazareth to get here.

Distance covered: 81.2 miles

Elevation: 777m

Population: 55,000

Christian population: 11,600

Principal churches:

  • Church of the Nativity (marking the birthplace of Christ; shared between Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic churches)
  • Church of St Catherine (Roman Catholic)

Economy and culture 

Across the West Bank, many people cross the border to work in Israel. Bethlehem is an exception to this - instead, 40% of the working population is employed in the tourist industry, while many more work in related sectors (for instance producing handmade souvenirs). As a result, lockdown hit Bethlehem especially hard, with high unemployment.

Christian heritage

Bethlehem was the hometown of David - the humble shepherd who rose to become King of Israel, and from whom Jesus was descended. Hundreds of years later, it was still the hometown of David’s descendant Joseph, which is why he and his expectant wife Mary had to go there for the Roman census.

Take a quick tour of the location of Jesus’s birth here:

Bethlehem is built directly above an enormous aquifer - the source of the famously good Bethlehem water that David’s servants fetched for him in 2 Samuel 23.

Friends of the Holy Land in Bethlehem

The Friends of the Holy Land local office is based is based in Bethlehem - you can meet our Holy Land team here.

  • We also support St Martha’s House - a day care centre for elderly women in Bethlehem. These women are at risk of both loneliness and poverty, as many of their families have moved overseas and are often unable to send money home, and no welfare systems exist to support them. Meet some of the St Martha’s House residents here.
  • Our family support programme helps many families living in poverty to meet their basic needs - you can read more about it here. As a result of the pandemic and thanks to your support, we’ve expanded the programme to include more families in need.
  • In 2020, we supported 252 children across the Bethlehem region with the cost of school fees, enabling them to stay in their Christian schools during the pandemic. We also supported many with the cost of suitable devices to access classes online.
  • We also work to improve housing conditions in the area - read about how we helped Anwar adapt his home to be wheelchair accessible.
  • Our Bethlehem office also provides grants to individuals for medical treatment, monitoring and following up to make sure people receive the help they need.

On behalf of all the communities in the Holy Land who will benefit from the money you’ve raised this Pentecost season - thank you!

Inspired by your virtual tour of the Holy Land? We would love to help you organise an in-person trip, to meet these communities and walk for yourself in the land that Jesus walked.

Find out more about joining or organising a pilgrimage here.