The Living History of Bethlehem
A Look at the Unique Culture Gaining National Recognition
Step back in time to explore Moravian culture in historic downtown Bethlehem. A community founded in the 1700s, the grounds of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites feature more original structures than Colonial Williamsburg. In fact, the 1741 Gemeinhaus is believed to be the largest 18th-century log structure in continuous use in the United States.
Historic Moravian Bethlehem’s footprint is 14 acres of the original 18th-century Moravian settlement that served as the center of Moravian activities in America. The region is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District, one of eight in Pennsylvania and about 200 in the United States, and it recently was named to the U.S. Tentative List for World Heritage Designation.
Today, visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like as a member of the Moravian community through a variety of guided tours led by docents in period 1700s-era Moravian dress. The Moravians believed that people of all races, genders, and ethnicities should receive the same education and health care—a mindset that was quite radical for the times. Europeans, African Americans, and Native Americans lived, worked, worshipped, and went to school together, and then were buried side by side right in this historic community.
More than 20 historic sites are preserved and maintained within the community including:
- The 1810 Goundie House
- The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem & Gemeinhaus (National Historic Landmark)
- The 1750 Smithy
- The 1762 Waterworks (National Historic Landmark)
- The 1752 Apothecary
- Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
- Burnside Plantation
In addition to year-round offerings, a number of special tours are available throughout the year including the Death & Dying Cemetery Tours, holiday tours including the Christmas City Stroll and Bethlehem by Night bus tour, and more.
Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is a not-for-profit institution that brings to life three centuries of American history. The story of Historic Moravian Bethlehem follows a community rich with European influence as it makes its mark on colonial America and grows into a city embracing tradition and life. Learn more about the sites and available tours at HistoricBethlehem.org.