Manger Square is in the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem just 8km from Jerusalem. Bethlehem is known as the birth place of Jesus and the square gets its name from the manger mentioned in the Bible where Jesus was born. The manger is said to have been located in the Church of the Nativity which borders the square. Although the “square” is not mentioned in the Bible it is the plaza at the entrance to the manger where Jesus was born.

The square marks the spiritual center of the city and since 1999 it has been a pedestrian only zone. The square has been renovated to include indigenous trees, benches made by a local carpenter and fountains making it even more appealing to those visiting the holy sites of the city. The stone floor of the square is made of blue veined off-white Naqab marble. Incorporated in the stone floor is a central Arabic pattern.  At night the trees and square are illuminated and people visit Manger Square at all times of day and night.

Around the edge of the square are the Church of the Nativity (built in the 4th century AD), the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Catherine, the Mosque of Omar (an active mosque with an impressive tall minaret) and the Palestinian Peace Center. Leading to the square are road with names relating to the nativity like Star Street, one of the city’s oldest streets.

Christmas Events in Manger Square

Manger Square is the site where the city’s annual Christmas tree stands, it is brightly lit up and a center piece for the Christmas celebrations. On Christmas Eve Christians gather in Manger Square to sing Christmas carols until the Midnight Mass begins in the Church of the nativity.

During the Christmas season there are religious services and processions held by the various Christian denominations. Many of these processions pass through or are held in Manger Square. The Christmas season is protracted to encompass the different days on which the various denominations celebrate Christmas e.g. Orthodox Christians on January 18th, Roman Catholics on December 25th and Syrian Orthodox celebrate Christmas on the 6th of January. When each Christmas service takes place in one of the Manger Square churches there is a ceremony to mark the entry of the priests to the church. This ceremony and procession is held in Manger Square. So Manger Square is at its busiest during December and January.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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Manger Square in Bethlehem

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Armenian Chapel of the Kings

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