Just east of Bethlehem is the town of Beit Sahour, famous in Christian tradition for the Shepherds' Fields, where herdsmen received the "tidings of great joy" that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2). The same fields are also said to be where the biblical Ruth the Moabite, daughter-in-law of Naomi, "gleaned in the field" (Ruth 2:2). Local Christians disagree about where the real Shepherds' Fields are, and two chapels and gardens give rival interpretations, complete with rival Byzantine relics. Entrance is free to both.
The Greek Orthodox Der El Rawat Chapel is a small white building with a charming red dome; inside, bright paintings of the Stations of the Cross cover the walls and soaring ceilings. A mosaic dating to a 5th-century Byzantine church lies just outside. It's open Monday to Saturday 9 to 3. A Catholic church—Shepherds' Field of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land—is a short walk away. This tiny, minimalist chapel built over a cave is tucked away in a lush garden, with walking paths surrounded by soaring pines and bright aloe plants. Outside are a number of souvenir stores and coffee shops. It's open Monday to Saturday 8 to 5:30, Sunday 8 to 11 and 2 to 5:30.