Christianity - central church
We were informed that this is the "main" and "central" christian church in Nazareth. We did not have information on its history or origins, but will find out and add later. We were not dressed "properly" to be able to enter the courtyard or church so were only able to see from the outside. I am always totally blown away by the money and effort put into religious structures and maintaining religious infrastructure. If the same money was spent on improving living conditions I wonder if there would be poverty??
If you're coming to Nazareth on the first day of October things will look a little bit different. Nearly all the shops and businesses are closed and everyone has the day off work. But it's not a celebratory holiday and the streets are pretty empty with people generally staying at home.
The reason is the anniversary of the start of the second Palestinian intifada, which broke out in 2000, and Arab towns throughout Israel pretty much close down as a mark of respect. Major demonstrations are held in smaller towns like Sakhnin, with small protests in Nazareth.
In Nazareth, the day also marks the death of two local men, shot dead when Jewish youths marched from nearby Nazareth Illit came to the town to protest against the start of the Intifada. Tensions rose, minor clashes broke out and the police and army came in. Two of the Arab demonstrators, all of whom were unarmed, were killed. Needless to say, there hasn't been an inquiry and no-one has been brought to justice. Obviously that's the Arab version of events rather than the Jewish one, and there is still a lot of anger in Nazareth about that day.
Stained glass windows in detail
The Basilica of the Annunciation shows in its modern, upper part some very specially designed glass-windows.Unlike those painted by Marc Chagall in the Hadassah-Synagogue (Hadassah Medical Center ) of Jerusalem, they follow the old style of a lead-and-glass-mosaique.Most of the stained glass windows were donated to the church by several foreign countries.
On the way from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee you pass Kafr Kanna. This is one of the stops on the pilgrims trail. According to the Bible, Jesus attended a wedding here and turned the water into wine.
Walk the new "JESUS TRAIL"
In June 2008 a brandnew, private project has been started in Israel, that will bring hundreds, maybe thousands of visitors and pilgrims into the country. It could become a "Way of St James of the Middle East."
The JESUS TRAIL is a 40-mile (65 km) hiking path through the region where Jesus ministered and an alternative to bus tours that stop only at the known holy sites.The excellent preparation and -logistics for the trail, offered by the trails website is nearly incredible and most impressive!
There is even a Google-Earth file with the route to download as well as GPS coordinates and a list of accomodations and restaurants.
Since the trail is not yet marked, travelers can hire a tour guide, download GPS from Jesustrail.com or pick up trail maps at tourist sites. The path is meant to be hiked in four days. Pilgrims can sleep near the start of the trail in Nazareth, the town Jesus lived in as a boy, and travel each day to the start of a section. Or they can stay at the occasional guest house offered by kibbutzim and Arab communities or carry tents with them.
The usual itinerary looks like as follows:
Day 1: Begin walking the Jesus Trail from Nazareth, visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Old City Market, Mensa Christi Church, and the ancient Greco-Roman city of Zippori, ending in the town of Kfar Cana.
Day 2: Kfar Cana to Golani (12 km): Visit the Cana wedding churches and spend the day hiking through olive groves and forests surrounding Kfar Cana.
Day 3: Golani to Arbel (19 km): Walk up to the Horns of Hattin National Park and decend to Nebi Shu’eib, a Druze monastery near an ancient spring. Walk across the Arbel Valley, visit an ancient synagogue near Moshav Arbel, ending up on Arbel Cliffs for the sunset.
Day 4: Arbel to Capernaum (21 km): Hike down the Arbel Cliffs on the Israel National Trail, past the cliff fortress and through fruit orchards around the Sea of Galilee. Visit Tabgha, St. Peter’s Primacy, Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum.