This small village in the north of Israel which is, according to studies, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, has so much to offer; An aromatic experience in the Space Road Farm, learning about cows in the Milk trail, Raspberries picking and more. Enjoy the magic
Bethlehem of Galilee is a quaint spot, often overlooked by locals and tourists. Those who dare venture off the beaten path will discover a myriad of gorgeous Templar buildings, lush fields of flowers and towering oak trees
A Rich Past of Settlement
Of the two Bethlehems in Israel – one near Jerusalem and the other up north – the former receives most of the fame while the latter maintains relative anonymity. According to recent studies, it is this Bethlehem that was the birthplace of Jesus Christ, a suggestion that makes perfect sense considering its vicinity to Nazareth. This small village had much to offer settlers throughout history, from the Roman era to the Middle Ages, through the Templers of the nineteenth century and up to the pioneers of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. Today, the village numbers some 800 residents who rely on agriculture and tourism as their main source of income.
Through the Village
The village of Bethlehem of Galilee can be easily explored by foot in under an hour. Take your time to appreciate the carefully reserved Templer architecture, similar to that found in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Although most, if not all buildings are now domestic residences, they are still a sight to behold. The central Folk House, still used as a community center to this day, is a delightful structure. The main hall, located on the ground floor, dates back to 1917, while the second floor, used for offices, was added several years later. The nearby fortress-like water tower is an impressive architectural feat, and at its top you will notice the town bell, formerly used to alert the people of emergencies and other important events. Head over to the visitor center, operated by the Fleischman family, and book a tour with the talented Kobi Fleischman who will happily share all there is to know about the village and its history.
There’s more to Bethlehem of Galilee than houses, beautiful though they may be. The Spice Road Farm is an aromatic experience for all ages. Join a guided tour of the farm and learn about the different spices and their various culinary and medicinal uses. Check the website for special events and workshops incorporating hundreds of locally-grown herbs and spices. If you are still hungry for food-related action, visit the Galili olive press for a free tour of the facilities and a memorable olive-oil tasting session.
Another fun visit, albeit child-oriented, is the Milk Trail (by appointment, tel. 04-9832437). This 107-year-old Templer-era dairy farm is the place to learn everything there is to know about cows and dairy products, and even try your hands at butter churning.
A Walk in Nature
Once you’ve had your share of the village, get back in your car and head out to the adjacent Alonei Abba nature reserve via route 7513. This beautiful 2km hike is easily accomplished by even the laziest walkers, and is particularly gorgeous in winter, when the cyclamens and anemones are in bloom. Enjoy the cool shade, courtesy of the towering oak trees, namesakes of the reserve and remnants of a once vast oak forest. The hilltop is a wonderful location for a picnic lunch and an even more wonderful backdrop for impromptu photography. If you’re lucky, you can spot the occasional grazing cow. If you’re still thirsty for some architecture, make a pit stop at Alonei Abba village, where more Templer houses await you.
Driving up to and near the village, it’s hard to miss the road signs pointing you to the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. The former is the crown jewel of the region, with clear waters begging to be enjoyed. Swimming, recreational sports, fishing or waterside picnics – whatever your flavor, you’re likely to find your spot here.
Further north, Nazareth is at the top of the list for religious visitors, but has much to offer beyond biblical experiences. The Nazareth market is a hotspot of activity where vendors offer their wares in a bustling atmosphere. Take a guided tour to discover all of its hidden gems and enjoy traditional foods that will have you asking for seconds.