Three kilometres east of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour’s main claim to fame is the site of the angel’s visitation to the shepherds in the Gospels. Religious and historical sites are in abundance, but there is also delicious Palestinian food, traditional olive-wood carvings and beautiful architecture.
Things to do
There are two sites in Beit Sahour that claim to be the Shepherds’ Field where the herdsmen who “watched their flocks by night” first spotted the Nativity star. Many pilgrims still visit the sites, as they’re a pleasant place to take in the views and sit under the ancient olive trees, which have been there since the birth of Christ.
Interested in the local history? Visit the remains of a 5th-century church built in a cave, where three of the shepherds are said to be buried, and a 7th-century monastery, which was used as a refuge for monks during the Crusades. The church has been partially restored and some of the old mosaics and frescoes are still visible.
Stroll around the old town and appreciate the attractive Ottoman architecture with its narrow winding streets, arched windows and decorative reliefs. Don’t forget to taste Beit Sahour’s own beer, Wise Men Choice, which is hand crafted by a local carpenter and flavoured with sage, honey, bitter oranges and coriander.
Beit Sahour is a 15-minute drive from the centre of Bethlehem and there are frequent buses from Bethlehem to the main square. The Shepherd’s Fields is less than a 15-minute walk out of town. If you don’t want to organise your own transport, join a day tour, which starts in Bethlehem and takes you to all the main sites.