We started the day visiting the Jewish settlement of Efrat just south of Bethlehem. We met with the mayor who gave us the history of their settlement and their relationship with the surrounding Palestinian towns.
Next stop was a refugee camp in Bethlehem housing Palestinians that were displaced by the 1947 war of Israeli Independence.
We visited the Church of the Nativity, originally built in 326 over the cave in which Jesus was born. The church was destroyed and later rebuilt by Justinian in 565. Much of that church still remains. Recent renovations revealed mosaic floors from the original church!
After lunch, we went to Herodium, a hill top fortress and palace built by Herod around 20 BC. He added to the hill to make it the highest spot in the area. Amazing views to the Dead Sea and beyond into Jordan to the east, and Jerusalem to the north.