This is the spot where Gabriel appeared to Mary. Of course, there have neen a number of churches over the site during the centuries ---this is the fifth to be built here!
The religious artwork is amazing: stained glass, mosaics, sculptures, murals and the architecture.
The grotto contains columns which are supposed to have special powers; perhaps these are linked with the idea that Mary, Joseph and Jesus are supposed to have returned here...
Would I revisit? Yes!
08:30--11:45, 14:00--17:50 Mon to Sat
Nazareth Village is a walk through museum which recreates life the way it was in the first century. They restored a first century vineyard and built replicas of houses, fully functioning olive press, synagogue, and watchtower. They also show the only first century wine-press to be discovered in nazareth and explain about pressing grapes.
The local tour guide explains about many things from olive trees to the threshing floor, the tomb, the cistern, and many other things as he shows them. They also have a carpenter's house and a weaver's house. Almost in every station of the one house fifteen minutes tour the tour guide makes a connection between what he shows and the Bible. It really brings the scripture to life.
There is also the option of having a Biblical meal on location if booked before hand. It is best if one makes a booking so they have a tour guide to show you around.
It is also a great place for families, the kids can feed the goats and sheep, they see donkeys and the actors are very friendly. It really is like traveling back in time!
On the southern edge of Nazareth, Mt. Precipice looks over the green, fertile Jezreel Valley.
According to Christian tradition, the residents of Nazareth were infuriated by Jesus's sermon when he declared himself as Messiah, and the angry mob pushed him to the edge of this mountain. However, Jesus jumped off safely.
This mountain has been sacred to Christians for many centuries. You can come here either as a pilgrim or simply to enjoy the magnificent view from the observation point: From a height of 397 meters the Jezreel Valley spreads below you, the Carmel mountains can be seen to the southwest, and Mt. Tabor is clearly visible to the east.
The JNF arranged a short walking trail between two observation points.
As you complete your tour of the Basilica of Annunciation, continue to the far end of the basilica complex. There you will find St. Joseph's Church.
The first church was constructed here in the Byzantine period (5th century), and at that time it was not associated with Joseph. Travelers in the 7th century pointed this place out as the location of the carpentry shop of Joseph; later traditions associated the same location as the house of Joseph. In the Crusader period, in the 12th century, a church was built here and later destroyed. The Franciscans bought the area in the 18th century, and built the present church in 1914. It is built in a neo-Romanesque style.
The entrance level is the prayer hall. Down in the crypt you will find remnants of caves, wells and granaries from Nazareth village of the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.
This church's claim to fame is a stone table which served, according to popular tradition, as the table on which Jesus and his disciples dined. Hence the name: "Table of Christ" in Latin.
The location became popular in the 17th century, the Franciscan built a chapel here in the 18th century, and the church was rebuilt in 1860. In the past pilgrims used to break small chips off the stone table as souvenirs!
By the way, the municipality put a new, shining explanatory sign near the gate, but the English text came out somewhat scrambled (see photo)...
According to the New Testament, Jesus preached in a synagogue in Nazareth, the one in which he used to study and pray. This was where he first told the astonished Nazareth villagers that he was actually the Messiah., and aroused their anger. On the traditional site of this ancient synagogue a church was first built in the 12th century.
The church's location is unusual, set in the midst of the Nazareth market. You enter the gate, descend about a meter underground, and enter a small praying room with a concave ceiling, a few benches and a small altar. It is small, yet unique and atmospheric.
Adjacent to the Synagogue Church is the Greek Catholic parish church,built in 1887.
One of the remarkable features of the Basilica of Annunciation in Nazareth is an exhibition of mosaics from all over the world, depicting the same theme of the Virgin Mary.
Each one brings the flavor of its country of origin: Japan, Indonesia, Spain, Ireland, Brazil...
The Brazilian Madonna appears in a fishermen's net, with the two fishermen as prominent as her. The Japanese Madonna wears a beautiful kimono, as does baby Jesus in her arms.
Some of these mosaics are displayed in the lower courtyard, in a long covered corridor along the outside wall; other mosaics are on display in the Upper Basilica.
They attract many visitors, and are popular with tourists from all corners of the globe, who like to have their photo taken with "their" Madonna, or with other Madonna mosaics which appeal to them.
The Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation is the most prominent landmark in Nazareth, and attracts visitors from all over the Christian world. Several churches were built here and later destroyed over the centuries. The basilica you see today is a modern concrete building conceived by an Italian architect and constructed in 1969, but although modern, it manages to convey grandeur, splendor and a special spiritual atmosphere.
The lower level is built around the Grotto of Annunciation, the ancient cave where according to the Catholic tradition the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary and announced the upcoming miraculous birth of Jesus (the Orthodox church believes the cave is in a different location: see my tip about the Greek Orthodox church). This level has a dark, cavernous look.
In the spacious church yard, on the way up to the upper level of the basilica, you can see excavations of ancient Nazareth, mostly from the 17th century (Franciscan monastery), Crusader period (archbishop's palace) and Byzantine period. The remains consist of a network of caves and fragments of walls. Best preserved are a cistern for storing rainwater, food storage silos storage cellars and stables, all of these carved out of the soft limestone rock.
The upper basilica has an impressive dome, and the walls display mosaic pictures of Mary and Jesus donated by Christian communities from diferent countries, with some traditional local motifs (I loved the Japanese madonna!).
According to the Orthodox churches, the location of Mary's Well and the Annunciation was in a diferent location from that which the Catholics believe in, a bit further north along today's main street of Nazareth.
The Greek Orthodox church built here is not large, but beautiful and atmospheric. The first church dates back to the 12th century, the Crusader period. It was demolished by the Mamluks in the 13th century. Only in 1749 permission was granted by Daher-El-Omar, the Muslim ruler, to the Greek Orthodox community to rebuild the church.
You first enter the main prayer hall of the church, beautifully decorated with frescos. The current frescos were painted only in the 1970s by a Romanian artist, but now are already undergoing restoration. The most impressive item, as in many Orthodox churches, is the richly decorated iconostasis, separating the general prayer hall from the altar.
An ancient aisle decorated with Ottoman mosaic tiles leads to the crypt containing the Crusader-period well, traditionally believed to represent Mary's well, where the Annunciation took place. It is impressive to see pilgrims from Orthodox communities all over the world praying here, lighting candles and performing their rites.
No matter what denomination you belong to, do not miss this church when you visit Nazareth!
The museum has a collection of 19th century icons from the Byzantian church and has beautifully rennovated parts of the original iconostasis as well as a unique display of handwritten prayer books in different languages in which the Orthodox service has been and is still performed.
Have a look at the White Mosque in Nazareth. You can look inside the prayers room. The White Mosque is the oldest of Nazareth, built in the 18th century.
Below the link brings you to a more detailed description of the mosque.
The Saraya was the cities administrative center and was built in the 18th century by Daher al-Omar. It also hosted a prison for some time. Later until 1991 the municipal offices were located here.
Find it with the link below.
This is a building in downtown Nazareth at the entrance of a guarded parking. It was built in 1904 to serve the needs of russian pilgrims. It was named after the founder of the orthodox pilgrims' society, Prince Sergei Alexandrovich, and gave space for about 1000 pilgrims. Additionaly it had a pharmacy, a hospital, dining rooms and a school. Local people nicknamed it 'Moskubiyeh' after the city of Moscow.
The condition of the house was surely once better than today, anyway it is a part of the holy Nazareth.
Check the webpage below, which also refers to the Moskubiyeh.
According to the orthodox church the real well of Mary (the place where she got the news from the angel Gabriel about her birth of Jesus) is nowadays located inside St. Gabriel Church.
Entering the church and following to the crypt you can see the spring. It looks quite pretty here and I enjoyed my visit.
In Nazareth (like during the whole trip around Israel) it was very easy to get in touch with the people. Also here at the St. Gabriel Church I got in smalltalk with some older people. They proudly showed me a mosaic, which was hanging on a wall on the right side of the outer yard of St. Gabriel Church. They told me that it was set up just the day before my visit to the site. The mosaic is in fact nice and colorful. It shows the scene when the angel Gabriel gave the news to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Both are standing resp. sitting at the sides of the spring. The mosaic is a donation from Romania.