Ok, so the headline has rather given it away, but a quick question: where is the world’s largest recreation of biblical Bethlehem? Logic might tell you it would be, er, modern day Bethlehem but it isn’t. It’s in Ghajnsielem, on Gozo.
This is an annual recreation of the nativity story, spread across a large site, with over 150 actors recreating not just the nativity scene itself, but life in Roman Bethlehem.
According to the Times of Malta, “Attractions include a carpenter and blacksmith’s dwellings, a bakery, a market selling fresh fruit, fish and vegetables, a tavern, a local crafts area and a barn. Other attractions this year include a 30-foot bridge, a small perfumery house where a group of women will be making perfumes and spices, and a mosaic team that will be working on a Roman mosaic.”
The story of the nativity is told in real time, with actors recreating the key scenes throughout the Christmas and Epiphany periods. Even the Three Wise Wen will embark on their own journey to the manger, although in this version their route will take them from Mellieha on the Maltese mainland, to the Gozo ferry, to Ghajnsielem Bethlehem. All being well, they’ll arrive on 7 January, hopefully with gold frankincense and myrrh all present and correct.
In fact, the stable has already announced a birth, although it’s probably not the one you imagine. Just two days after the attraction opened its doors, one of the donkeys at the crib gave birth to a foal.
Bethlehem in Ghajnsielem is open most days over the Christmas period. You can find full opening hours here. If you’re holidaying on Gozo this Christmas, it really is a rather wonderful open air recreation of a 2,000 year old world, and well worth a visit.
And as ever, if you need Gozo villa or farmhouse accommodation near to the attraction, call 01430 626 061. And as it’s Christmas, you’ll get an extra special deal.