Bethlehem may no longer be the 'little town' of Christmas carols, but you don't have to go far in what is now a pulsing city to see the stories of Mary and Joseph, stars, mangers and a saviour hardwired into every paving stone, street and church.
Like Jerusalem, every Christian denomination – Lutheran, Syriac, Catholic, Orthodox – is present here and the city positively hums with activity, its winding streets congested with traffic and its main square filled with snap-happy pilgrims scrambling to keep up with their guides.
But there is plenty to see and do for even for the nonreligious. There’s a lively Old City and bazaar and numerous sites around town, including the epic Mar Saba Monastery. Many tourists also come for the street art – particularly several stencils by British street artist Banksy – that have turned the Israeli Separation Wall that now divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem into a vast canvas.