The Christmas Eve Tour to Bethlehem on 24th December 2013 is more than just a trip to Manger Square in Bethlehem and back again. In addition you will see many of the fascinating sites of both new and old Jerusalem.
The tour begins when you are picked up from your hotel in Herzliya (13:30), Tel-Aviv (14:00) or Jerusalem (15:15) and until you arrive in Bethlehem in the evening the tour takes you on a brief tour of significant site in new and old Jerusalem.
The first stop is the Mount of Olives where you can enjoy panoramic views of Jerusalem. This is where Jesus came on the night of the Last Supper; it is also where the Garden of Gethsemane is located. The tour takes you around the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City where you can see the various historic gates.
From here visitors take a short walk into the Old City to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This historic church was constructed in c.325 and is located at the end of the Via Delarosa. It is believed to be where Jesus was crucified and where he was laid to rest. The church is an extremely large, cavernous structure, decorated with ornate liturgical artwork. It is shared by several Christian denominations and on the day before Christmas you will probably see pilgrims from around the world who have come to pay homage to this holy site. At the entrance to the church is a slab of marble where Christ’s body was laid to be prepared for his burial.
The tour continues by bus into the New City where you can see modern day Jerusalem and pass the prestigious Knesset or Israeli Parliament building as well as the Israeli Museum and the Valley of the Cross. A little further on the tour passes the Valley of the Cross, named after the 11th century Monastery of the Cross which is located here. The tour continues towards Bethlehem making a stop at the Hill of Evil Counsel. The hill was named during the Byzantine era when it was identified as the site where the High Priest Caiaphas and his counsel made the decision to arrest Jesus (John 11:47-50). Here they met with Judas Iscariot who agreed to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces. Today it is the site of a mixed Jewish/Arab neighborhood and from here you can look out across Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, the Kidron Valley, the Mount of Olives and in the far distance the Judean Desert beyond Bethany.
From here the tour continues across the Israeli/Palestinian border and to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem the Christmas spirit can be felt immediately as pilgrims gather from around the world to celebrate the birth of Christ. You will enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner in a restaurant on Manger Square, be able to join in the festivities and view the St. Catharine Church Midnight Mass on large screens set up in the Square.