Manger Square, Bethlehem
Manger Square is the core of Bethlehem's hub of religious activity. It is the site of Christmas Eve festivities every year. The Church of the Nativity and Church of St. Catherine, the Mosque of Omar and the Palestinian Peace Center surround the Square.
Manger Square; which was renovated in 1998-99; is now relieved from traffic and is only intended for pedestrians. It is transformed to a meeting place for the local residents, and for the pilgrims and tourists the only one, wanted for a long time. The new character is that of peace, calmness, fresh air and dignity. Trees with low broad crowns give shade and underneath it there are benches and playing fountains.
The rows of trees are called Celtis Australis, in Arabic Maish, which grow wild in Palestine. The benches are made by a local carpenter. The fountains are made of solid cubic stones with continuously circulating water pouring over them. The stone paving is made of white yellowish Naqab marble with blue contributions.
In the center of the open space a pattern of Arabic origin is discretely inlaid with big stone settings. When the twilight sets, the pattern is transformed into a lattice of luminous points. The trees are lit up from below, creating a green canopy for the social life underneath.