We were on our way to the West Bank to check out Bethlehem and the excitement levels were fever pitch in The Whole World is a Playground house! Not only were we getting to see the Little Town of Bethlehem there was the small matter of some iconic Banksy street art along the way!
There are a million reasons to visit the West Bank but, if you need one more, Banksy in Bethlehem might just be it! Check out the rest of our day in Bethlehem here!
We booked a day trip tour from Jerusalem to Bethlehem which took us through all the border patrols without any extra work on our part.
Where to stay when visiting Bethlehem
Most visitors will take a day trip into Bethlehem from Jerusalem city in Israel. Most of the tours will do a hotel pickup, however the best hotels will be the ones closest to the old city of Jerusalem as they allow you to explore the Old City easily and are located close to the bus stations. The best hotels we recommend are:
- Harmony Hotel: Where we stayed and a short 5 minute walk from the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City. This stunning boutique hotel really made our stay in Jerusalem special. A delicious breakfast each morning, afternoon drinks on the sun filled terrace and a perfect location make this our top pick for staying beside the Old City of Jerusalem. The local area is lively with a great atmosphere and lots of great restaurants and bars. The hotel also has free parking which was great when we rented a car for a day trip to Massada – Click here for best prices!
- Sephardic House Hotel: located within the Old City itself in the Jewish Quarter (close to the Zion Gate), this hotel is a short walking distance from all of the sights, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount and the Western Wall to name a few nearby). Perfect if you want to stay in the Old City itself – Click here for best prices!
- Bezalel Hotel: A fantastic value hotel located 10 minutes walk from the Jaffa Gate. A sister hotel of the Harmony hotel, the Bezalel is a great alternative if the Harmony Hotel is booked out! – Click here for best prices!
The Girl Frisking the Soldier
Our first stop was the incredible image of the young girl frisking a soldier which Banksy did as part of his 2007 stint in Palestine. I was blown away by the prospect of standing in front of a real life Banksy creation, especially one as iconic as the Girl Frisking the Soldier.
Location: The girl frisking the solider is located across the street from the Intercontinental Bethlehem (Jacir Palace) Hotel, close to the Gilo 300 checkpoint, which marks the border between Israel and Palestine.
The Armoured Dove
Location: The Armoured Dove is located outside the Palestine Heritage Centre.
The Angel Sprinkling Hearts
I love hearts and I love angels so it’s no surprise that the Angel Sprinkling Hearts was the highlight of my Banksy spotting! The hearts may have faded to yellow but it’s still a strong and beautiful image.
Location: The Angel Sprinkling Hearts is located close to the Ararat Hotel in Bethlehem. It is on the way to Manger Square and on the opposite side of the road to the hotel.
The Flower Thrower
Our next stop was The Flower Thrower, another iconic Banksy stencil which depicts a masked Palestinian throwing a bouquet of flowers.
Location: The Flower Thrower is on a wall on the side of a garage on the main road from Beit Sahour opposite a Peugot/Citroen car dealership.
The Girl with the Balloons
The Balloon Girl is a replica stencil of an original Bansky and is said to have been recreated to mark the opening of a Banksy souvenir stop in the West Bank. It might not be an actual Banksy but I love the idea of the girl with the balloons floating over the Separation Wall to freedom.
Location: The Girl with the Balloons is located opposite the Banksy shop in Bethlehem. The store is well signposted on the main road along the Separation Wall.
Window on the West Bank
Only part of The Window on the West Bank remains along the Separation Wall in Bethlehem. Banksy used stickers, which unfortunately didn’t stand the test of time, in some of his West Bank images. Two sofas and the outline of a window remain from a stencil which gave Palestinians a glimpse at life through the Separation Wall.
Location: The Window on the West Bank is located in the car park at the Gilo 300 checkpoint marking the border between Israel and Palestine.
Our Banksy tour of Bethlehem was amazing and we were totally blown away by the Banksy creations found in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is an incredible destination in its own right and the Bansky images are just one more reason to make the trip to the West Bank. As the artist himself reportedly said ‘if it is safe enough for a bunch of sissy artists, it’s safe enough for anyone!’
Check out the rest of our day in Bethlehem here!
Banksy travelled to Bethlehem in both 2005 and 2007 where he expressed his views on the Israel/Palestine conflict through his art. Some of his images have been removed or painted over but the images above still remain intact as of the Summer 2014. All images are publicly accessible and are free to visit.
Getting around Bethlehem:
- Tour: Day tours are available to Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
- Bus and Taxi: Bus 21 leaves from the Bus Station at Damascus Gate to Bab ez-Zqaq. There are plenty of taxis at the checkpoint whose drivers are well versed on the locations of the Banksy images.
Bethlehem is not well mapped and the locations listed above are based on our best guess of the tour locations and their position on Google maps.