The beautiful village of Beit Lechem HaGalilit, in English, Bethlehem of Galilee, is located in the hills of the Lower Galilee, between the cities of Haifa and Nazareth. Overshadowed in name, by the world famous Bethlehem, next to Jerusalem, Bethlehem of Galilee is a somewhat different affair, today drawing visitors thanks to its quaint stone buildings dating to its time as a Templer colony, built by German Christians who came to the Holy Land during the 19th century.
Stone buildings of the Templar era in Beit Lechem HaGalilit. Credit Or Hiltch
Today, Bethlehem of Galilee is a moshav, a village which had its roots in agriculture when it was founded by Jewish immigrants, but has today diversified and taken advantage of its picturesque setting and beautiful architecture to offer visitors touristic services. As well as bed and breakfasts, there are olive oil presses, spice farms, and many other cottage industries geared up for tourists. Just a quick drive or stroll through the village, however, is enough to get a feel for its unique atmosphere.
Another point of interest is that Bethlehem of Galilee is occasionally in the world media as some historians believe that this Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus, believed generally to be the Bethlehem next to Jerusalem. Bethlehem (or Beit Lechem in Hebrew) simply means ‘House of Bread’ or ‘Bakery’ so was a fairly common place name in historic times. Being located very close to Nazareth, historians argue that it is a far more probably place where Mary, mother of Jesus, would have been as a pregnant woman, than some 150km away.