Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel
Information Not Currently Available
Approximately 9¼ Hours
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity & the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
The inscribed property is situated 10 km south of Jerusalem on the site identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus since the 2nd century. A church was first completed there in ad 339 and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original building. The site also includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
There is so much history in Israel, both secular and religious, that familiar names will catch your attention all the way from Ashdod to Jerusalem.
Begin your visit to Jerusalem with a narrated driving tour in the capital, passing the Knesset (Israel's parliament), the Supreme Court and the Shrine of the Book. Continue to the Mount of Olives for a magnificent view over the Golden City.
Then, drive to the Valley of Kidron and follow in the footsteps of Jesus as you walk through the Garden of Gethsemane. It was in this garden of olive trees that Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest. Early Christians were already holding gatherings here before the first church was built around AD 380. Visit the Church of All Nations and see some of the oldest olive trees in Jerusalem.
Reboard your coach and head to a venue for a hearty lunch, followed by a drive to Bethlehem. In the city of Jesus' birth, you'll visit the Church of Nativity built above the place where Christ is said to have been born. The actual Cave of the Nativity is a small crypt with a vaulted masonry roof. Poor Bethlehem families used the rocky hollows of the region as stables or dwellings, so the tradition that places the Nativity in a cave is not at odds with the story of the manger.
After visiting the church, there's time to shop for souvenirs.
Returning to Jerusalem, stop at the Sherover Promenade for another panoramic view of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount; then, return to the ship.
Please note: You will not visit the Old City of Jerusalem or the Wailing Wall on this tour. Bring your passport when visiting Bethlehem; your guide in Bethlehem will be Palestinian. Expect congestion and lines with a long wait at the crypt. Entrance to the crypt is dependent upon the length of the lines and tour timing. Even if you have been waiting in line to enter, you may have to forgo the crypt visit if the tour timing requires that you continue to the next destination.