Notes on the Geography of The West Bank: Bethlehem: Photo 1
Old Bethlehem, the city's core, is composed of stone-block buildings draped over an east-projecting ridge on a slope trending down toward the Dead Sea. Streets run on the contour, intersected by staircases and one cross-ridge road that traverses the square in front of the Church of the Nativity. The staircases separate the large houses once built to provide separate quarters for extended families. Probably none of these structures does so today: each building (or hosh) is known by the name of the family that built it, but the occupants are almost entirely renters, protected by a Jordanian rent-control law. As such laws often do elsewhere, this law almost guarantees that the buildings will fall to pieces before the owners put money into maintenance.
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