Nazareth Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Nazareth

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    Mary's Well

    by mafi_moya Written Oct 3, 2004

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    Mary's Well

    The thing about religion is that everyone has a different version. Some people believe that the Annunciation actually took place here, about 5 minutes walk from the Basilica site, at "Mary's Well".

    The spring under the well has served Nazareth for over 2000 years and the story goes that Mary was collecting water when she was visited by the Angel Gabriel. The spring is actually underneath the nearby Greek Orthodox Church of St Gabriel.

    Although it's in an attractive tree-covered square, Mary's Well feels a bit of a let-down, partly because of the empty cans and rubbish dumped at the bottom.

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    The Basilica of the Annunciation

    by mafi_moya Written Sep 29, 2004

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    The Basilica

    This huge building and dome dominates the skyline of Nazareth. It stands on the site where it is thought Mary's home once stood and where Catholics believe she was visited by the Angel Gabriel and told she would bear the son of God. The actual building doesn't stretch back quite as far - in fact it was only built in 1969! Considering its importance the site was quite slow to becoming a major pilgrimage site - the first shrine here was built over 400 years after Jesus' birth.

    It's the largest basilica in the whole of the Middle East, and built on two levels. The lower church was the home of Mary and contains the remains of numerous old Byzantine churches and a museum. The upper level is the modern local church and the vast interior is decorated with mosaics. The huge dome illuminates the church with natural light.

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    Greek Orthodox Church of St Gabriel

    by mafi_moya Updated Oct 3, 2004

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    St Gabriel's Church

    To the Greek Orthodox Christian community this church celebrates the Annunciation. It's a much smaller, much more modest affair than the grand Basilica, and while it may not be as immediately impressive it's much older and has a lot more character.

    The marble crypt is built on the spring that serves Mary's Well and inside it's darkly lit with numerous icons and murals. There's a nice service on a Sunday.

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    A brief tour of the world!

    by mafi_moya Written Sep 29, 2004

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    The wooden Sri Lankan donation

    An interesting tour around the world in 10 minutes is in the grounds of the Basilica. Here there are artworks and carvings of Mary and child donated from Catholic communities all around the world - East Asia, Europe, Central America, the Pacific, you name it.

    It was quite strange to find the donation from Sri Lanka, where I lived before Nazareth, with its Sinhala inscription. I also found one from Wales, my home country, and numerous other countries I've visited, from China and Vietnam to Italy and Ireland. I tried to find one from Sudan but unfortunately the collection doesn't seem to have stretched quite that far yet. Leaving aside the geographic interest, it's a very attractive and colourful collection and well worth a look.

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    Lower Church

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    The Lower Church centers on the Grotto or Cave of the Annunciation, where the angelic announcement to Mary is believed to have occurred. Also visible down here are remains of the Byzantine and Crusader churches that preceded the present one.
    The cave is located in the center of the lower floor. This area is slightly dark which maintains the mysterious atmosphere around the wonder of the Annunciation.

    Admission to the Basilica is free.
    Open Hours:
    Winter - Monday to Saturday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Summer - Saturday to Sunday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Note: Please dress modestly and speak softly.

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    Upper Church

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    The Upper Church serves as the local Roman Catholic parish church. Natural light illuminates the church from the stunning high cupola.
    It is decorated with mosaics of the Virgin donated by communities from around the world.
    Each painting was given by a different country and is reflecting the national motives of the country it was made at.

    There are mosaics presented to the church by Australia, Britain, Cameroun, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Mexico; ceramics from Canada, Poland and Portugal; a fresco from Argentina; a work in steel and silver from North America, a wood-carving from Venezuela.

    You can watch my 3 min 09 sec HD Video Nazareth Church of the Annunciation part 4 Upper Church out of my Youtube channel.

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    Basilica of the Annunciation

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    Basilica of the Annunciation
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    The huge concrete dome of the Basilica of the Assumption dominates the skyline of Nazareth.
    It is the largest Christian church building in the Middle East. In Roman Catholic tradition, it marks the site where the Archangel Gabriel announced the future birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

    The current church is a two-story building. It was constructed in 1969 over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era and then Crusader-era church. It was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio and built by Solel Boneh.

    The modern Basilica is topped with a uniquely-shaped concrete dome 55 meters high. Its shape is based on the Madonna lily, a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Inside, the basilica consists of an upper church and a lower church.
    Greek Orthodox tradition holds that this event occurred while Mary was drawing water from a local spring in Nazareth. That’s why the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation was erected at that alternate site (unfortunately we didn’t visit this place).

    You can watch my 2 min 05 sec HD Video Nazareth Church of the Annunciation part 1 out of my Youtube channel.

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    Grotto of the Annunciation

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    Inside the Lower Church the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation. It is believed by Catholic Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary.

    The grotto's interior with the beautiful XVIII-th century altar dedicated to the Annunciation. An ancient column located on the right of the altar. It was probably placed there in the fourth century to mark the place where the angel appeared. You will find stairs that lead up to a small cave (called "Mary's kitchen") behind it.

    You can watch my 2 min 45 sec HD Video Nazareth Church of the Annunciation part 3 Lower Church out of my Youtube channel.

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    Archaeological Site

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Apr 23, 2010

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    Archaeological Site
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    In the grounds around the Church several archaeological excavations unearthed the earlier remnants of the Churches and the Roman village. These included walls, parts of houses, silos, cisterns which were part of the Roman village. The excavations are visible under the platform of the upper church.
    This "Venerated Area" underwent extensive excavation in 1955-65 by the Franciscan priest Belarmino Bagatti, "Director of Christian Archaeology." Fr. Bagatti has been the principal archaeologist at Nazareth.

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    Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

    by iblatt Updated Dec 4, 2011

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    Restoration in progress in the Orthodox church
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    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!

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    Friezes and bronze doors

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    The west front of the church has ornamental friezes and a large relief of the Annunciation. The three bronze doors were the work of Roland Friederichsen of Munich. On the central door, top left, is the Nativity of Christ; bottom left the Flight into Egypt and Jesus as a boy; top right the Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion; bottom left the Baptism of Christ.

    You can watch my 5 min 12 sec HD Video Nazareth Church of the Annunciation part 2 out of my Youtube channel.

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    Courtyard and Baptistery

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    Courtyard
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    The entrance gateway of the Church of the Annunciation leads into a courtyard with colonnades along the west and south sides.
    Leaving the upper church of the Church by the north doorway you will come into a courtyard on the right of which is the baptistery. It was constructed by Bernd Hartmann and Ima Rochelle.

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    St. Joseph's Church

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Apr 23, 2010

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    St. Joseph's Church
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    The St. Joseph church is built where, according to tradition, used to be the carpentry workshop of Joseph, father of Jesus. Some of the traditions also claim this was Joseph's house.

    The church is built in a Neo Roman style, based on the foundations of the ancient Crusader church. It has 3 long halls ending with 3 enceintes on the east, built over Crusaders’ remains. The stairs are leading to the lower floor, where there’s crypt holding archeological remains from the Nazareth village times as well as the cave used as Joseph's workshop.

    You can watch my 3 min 07 sec HD Video Nazareth St Joseph's Church out of my Youtube channel.

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    Synagogue Church

    by mindcrime Written Mar 29, 2014

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    Not far from the Basilica of Annunciation we walked into Nazareth souq, the old arab market. In the middle of the market we saw the Synagogue Church, a small church that was built by the crusaders in 12th century AD. There’s a sign outside the church:

    According to the tradition, the Nazareth Synagogue where Jesus preached (Luke 4:16) stood on this spot. From the late twelfth century onwards, ilgrims reported visiting a church on the site. Adjacent to the Synagogue Church, is the parish church of Nazareth’s (built on 1887) Greek Catholic community.

    The main entrance is common for both churches leading to a small inner yard, the Synagogue Church is on the far left side but first we visited the greek catholic church that dates from late 19th century. It used to be under the control of Franciscans until the 18th century but Daher al-Omar passed it to the Melkite greek catholic church. There’s not something special to mention about the interiror as there’s not much to see inside the praying hall apart from some typical Christian paintings.

    But next to it is the Synagogue Church that dates from the 12th century, there’s a sign above the doorway clearly indicating “the synagogue”. The floor of the church is sunken about 1,5 meters underground and the place has a great history as the place where young Jesus learned, prayed and later preached here himself. According to Luke worshippers were pleased by his preach but later were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way

    but according to Matthew they got angry because they knew him as a local and refused to honor him And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching

    It’s hard to know about those years of Jesus in Nazareth anyway, a period that is known as the silent years of Jesus, silence that broke only by his presence in the Synagogue. But all these stories make the visit to such places much more interesting even for those who are not believers.

    Unfortunately we couldn’t go down the seven steps as a lecture was taking place but if you can see it on pic 5, it is a small single hall structure with raised altar that contains a table with a cross and candles while above a painting showing Jesus preaching in the synagogue.

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    Greek Orthodox church of Archangel Gabriel

    by mindcrime Updated Mar 29, 2014

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    Greek Orthodox church of Archangel Gabriel
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    Much smaller than the famous catholic church of Annunciation this one was a nice surprise for us. The Greek Orthodox church of the Annunciation is dedicated to Archangel Gabriel and it’s the most sacred church for the greek orthodox community of Nazareth. According to the orthodox church the church was built upon the spring where Virgin Mary came by to draw water when was announced by the archangel Gabriel that she will have a son of God.

    The first church was built over the spring in 3rd century AD but was destroyed by the arabs in 7th century. The Crusaders rebuilt the church in 12th century but it was destroyed again in 1263 by the Mamluk Sultan Baibers. It was rebuilt in mid 18th century on top of the ruins of the old crusader church when the muslim ruler Daher El-Omar gave permission to the greek orthodox people.

    We passed the main gate (pic 1) and realized it’s a small simple structure with a fortress-like appearance. 10 minutes earlier we had a coffee break on the square in front of the church so we had seen many groups of tourists getting inside… so when we finally visited the church it was already packed with orthodox people from Russia and Greece, people of all ages with cameras in hand covering every inch of the church so I couldn’t really enjoy the wall and ceiling colorful paintings and frescoes, most of them about Jesus live but also of numerous saints.

    I sat in corner for some minutes and when most old ladies left the church I enjoyed the church a bit more as it was much more atmospheric without the crowds, especially the iconostastis, a wonderful wooden carved templon (pic 5) that houses several paintings (about Annunciation event, Jesus life etc), there are also many modern murals on the walls and ceiling.

    But most of the visitors were down the hallway (pic 4) to reach the crypt (probably built by the Crusaders) with the little spring that ran inside, the water flows outside via pipers that lead to the trough near the church which is known as Mary’s Well (see next tip)

    Many people were lighting candles there but it was interesting to see many of them filling large 1,5lt plastic bottles with the water from the spring, it supposed to have healing power.

    The church is open Monday to Saturday 7-17.00 but the mass takes place on sunday

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