Bethlehem, cave of the Nativity
The Grotto of the Nativity is entered through a pair of Crusader Gothic doorways on either side of the raised sanctuary, two flights of steps lead down to the Altar of the Nativity. The cave is an irregular chamber more or less rectangular in shape, 12.3m long and 3.15m wide. The walls are partly of rock, partly of masonry, and largely covered with amianthus hangings.
Altars mark the traditional places of the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi and the Manger. The altar of the Nativity is located right on the spot where Jesus is said to have been born. The exact location is marked by a hole in the marble flow below the altar, surrounded by a silver star and silver lamps. At the end of the Grotto of the Nativity a door leads to a few chapels, the key of which belongs to the Franciscans. They dug a passage in 1470 in order to have access to the Grotto from the Church of St. Catherine.