Bethlehem is just a short drive away from Jerusalem but it’s in a whole other world. Located in the West Bank, Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus is surrounded in part by a wall. Not much unlike that famous wall in Berlin, it’s a sign of the divisions that afflict the region. Built by Israel along and within the West Bank, the state of Israel refers to it, contentiously, as a separation barrier.
As it turns out, one of the many forms of nonviolent protest in the West Bank includes the many types of graffiti on the Palestinian side of the wall. In Bethlehem, the wall runs within walking distance to the city’s many historical and touristic sites (Church of Nativity, Manger Square) so it’s quite easy to stroll along and see what Palestinians and their supporters are creating. The British graffiti artist Banksy famously created graffiti throughout Bethlehem (not just along the wall) in 2005, calling it one of the best destinations in the world for graffiti artists.
I’ll try not to get too political but let my photos of the wall speak for themselves…
It’s possible to visit Bethlehem on just a day trip from Jerusalem if you’re not planning to visit elsewhere in Palestine. Companies such as Abraham’s Tours offer half-day or full-day trips to Bethlehem if you’re wary of going solo, but it’s actually quite easy crossing the border on public transport. There’s a public bus for under 10 shekels that runs straight from the East Jerusalem Bus Station (right outside Damascus Gate) to the heart of Bethlehem. It won’t take more than 30-40 minutes even crossing past the wall. Leaving Bethlehem to cross back in Jerusalem is where the border is checked more thoroughly, but honestly—on my most recent visit—the border guard barely even glanced at my passport.
Other travel blogs that have written and photographed the graffiti on Bethlehem’s wall:
- Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures
- Travel Reportage blog
Have you visited Bethlehem before and did you make an effort to walk along the wall?
This is a place where I’d love to go back, and spend more time around the wall to see more of the graffiti. I remember seeing some of the ones you posted, but I must have missed others… thanks for posting this!
I recently gave a lecture about the Middle East and showed the Bethlehem graffiti too, and people loved them. They are so powerful.
Thanks for linking to my post too! :)
I saw you mention online something about the Middle East lecture – sounds really interesting! There is so much graffiti along the wall I think it’d be hard to spot all the photographic pieces…
I just got back from Jerusalem a few weeks ago and we spent a few hours in Bethlehem. It’s an unbelievable place. The Church of the Nativity was incredible, but we didn’t have much time to see the much of the surrounding area. Your photos say a lot and I still haven’t been able to come to terms with the political situation there….it just blows my mind.
Nicole, glad to hear you took the time to visit Bethlehem during your trip to Jerusalem. Understandable about not being able to wrap your head around the Israel/Palestinian conflict. It’s an intense area for sure.
Thank you for letting us know that “It’s possible to visit Bethlehem on just a day trip from Jerusalem if you’re not planning to visit elsewhere in Palestine”.
I must commend you in sharing with us some really amazing photos. Grafittis look really great. Did you shot these photos yourself?
Thanks for sharing!
Yep Nikhil. I was in Bethlehem in January.
yeah.. i couldn’t believe the walls they put up to get through to the other side. i felt like i was going through a prison. it’s sad to see so much animosity from both sides. :(
great captures btw.