Nazareth is Arab Capital of Israel.
Known worldwide as the hometown of Jesus Christ, Nazareth draws flocks of pilgrims who come to see the place where Christ grew up, and follow his footsteps along the Jesus Trail. World renowned as the childhood home of Jesus, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel, and an important site for pilgrims and tourists, coming to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation. Most Nazareth itineraries start in the Old City, home to a staggering number of churches, monasteries, and mosques. Beyond that, you'll discover a bustling town that offers a blend of historic places of interest with a growing dining and entertainment scene. Today, it plays home to Israel's largest Arab population, and a trip to Nazareth reveals a harmonious mix of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures, evident in its lively shops and marketplaces, as well as its Arab-influenced cuisine. Nazareth is in Galilee. Nazareth offers shop-lined thoroughfares, stone-paved alleys lined with Ottoman-era mansions, and in recent years, has been reinventing itself as a sophisticated cultural and culinary destination. Everything in Nazareth is open for business on Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday) and its friendly vibe and stunning location, right in the middle of the Lower Galilee (about 15 miles West of the Sea of Galilee), makes it a beloved stop on many tourists’ routes.
Basilica of the Annunciation
Basilica NazarethOne of the most famous scenes in the Bible occurs when the angel Gabriel descends from Heaven to inform the Virgin Mary of her pregnancy. The child in her womb was, of course, Jesus. The Basilica of the Annunciation is said to rest on the exact site where Mary received her message from God and is thus of immense significance to Christians. Church of the Annunciation.
Even if you aren’t a Christian, you’ll find plenty to appreciate about the imposing and unusual architecture of the Basilica, meticulously designed by Giovanni Muzio.
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Top choice church in Nazareth
According to Greek Orthodox tradition, the Annunciation took place while Mary was fetching water from the spring situated directly under this richly frescoed, 17th-century church (other denominations hold that she was at home during the Annunciation). The barrel-vaulted crypt, first constructed under Constantine (4th century CE), shelters Nazareth’s only year-round spring, a place everyone in the village obviously visited often. Check out the centuries-old graffiti carved around the outside doorway.
If you need to brush up on your Biblical history or would simply like to see the Biblical tales recounted to you in your youth enacted in real life, Nazareth Village is the place to be. This charming village faithfully recreates every detail of ancient Galilean life, complete with talented and enthusiastic actors decked out in historically accurate costumes.
You’ll be able to observe the customs and daily rituals practiced by the Galileans in the time of Jesus and gain a deeper understanding of the stories recounted in the New Testament.
Nazareth Village is about 15 minutes walk due west from the Basilica.
Salesian Monastery & Church of Jesus the Adolescent.
Just north of the town center, a path zigzags up the hill to this commandingly situated monastery and school run by the Catholic Salesian order. The Church of Jesus the Adolescent, built in 1918, is within the grounds. Even if you're feeling a little churched-out from all the basilica finery on display in Nazareth, it's worth coming up here for the views over town and surrounding countryside alone. Inside the church, over the high altar, is a figure of young Jesus.
Mary of Nazareth International Center
To complement your church visits with some understanding of Nazareth's importance in Christian beliefs, don't miss the Mary of Nazareth International Center, opposite the Church of the Annunciation. Run by the Chemin Neuf Catholic community, the center offers a Biblical multimedia show and a series of film exhibits that explain Mary's life and her representation both in the Bible and Qur'an as well as the story of early Christianity and the Eastern Church. There's also a small archaeological excavation on-site showing the foundations of a house that dates from the 1st century AD and a large beautifully landscaped garden with a pleasant restaurant offering excellent views across Nazareth.