Friday, March 11, 2011

Nazareth - Tourist Sites Walks and more...


Observation Points in the city

Mt. of Precipice Lookout Point (off of Hwy 60 just before entering Nazareth)

This is one of the most beautiful observation points in the Galilee area. Kdumim Mountain, also known as Mt. of Precipice, has a sheer straight inclination and it provides a great view of Nazareth, the Gillad Mountains in Jordan Valley, Tabor Mountain, the Carmel Mountains and Jezreel Valley. According to the Christian tradition, this is the sacred mountain from which the people of Nazareth tried to push Jesus to the death, but he jumped and disappeared, hence is the name of the mountain. The Jewish National Fund placed stone benches there, along with a short walking lane adapted for wheelchairs as well, and an organized parking space. On the mountain’s western inclinations you can find the remains of a Byzantine church and opposite to it there’s a cave, where pre-historical findings were revealed, and which was used as a residency place for the prehistoric man.
The Mountain is located at the city’s entrance, when coming from Afula.

The Peaks’ Promenade

Along the Nabi Sa’in Mountain there’s a promenade observing to the north, over the lower Galilee ridge: Alonim Hill, Shefaram, Eshcol site, the Carmel Mountains and the upper Galilee, Golan Heights and Hermon mountains. A short walk along the promenade would take us to several sacred sites as well as small, unique hotels. The first stop would be the Salesian Church (Jesus the adolescent), where you can also park. This is a large fortress-like site, combining a church, a covenant and a vocational school. The impressive church was built according to a French style and her great acoustics makes it a wonderful place for concerts.

Continuing along the promenade would bring us to Nabi Sa’in Mosque, where a Muslim Saint is buried. We take the first right turn to the Saint Gabriel Hotel, providing a wonderful observation point over the old city. Lastly we would go back to the promenade and arrive to the plaza where we turn right and reach the lovely Saint Margaret Inn. This is a boutique hotel, with a special Gothic-European atmosphere, resides in an old stone building which used to be a convent. We can finish the tour at the hotel’s coffee shop and enjoy the great Nazareth view seen from the balcony.

Basilica 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
Tel. 04-6572501
Note: Please dress modestly and speak softly.
The Catholic Church of Annunciation, also known as the Basilica of the Annunciation, is the most impressive and spectacular site in the city ion considered as one of the most holy churches for Christianity. The church, an outstanding building in the center of town, is built where it’s believed was the house of Joseph and Virgin Mary, parents of Jesus.
On the lower level is the most holy place – Mary’s cave, the cave in which, according to the Catholic-Christian tradition, Mary was visited by Archangel Gabriel and told her she is destined to carry the Messiah in her womb.
The first church was built there back in 427 A.D, and a few others were built and destroyed since. In the current building which was established on 1969, there are still remains of the previous churches and it is one of the biggest, most impressive churches in the Middle East.
The breathtaking Basilica is 59.5 Meters high and shows colorful mosaics pictures of the Holy Family. The mosaics were made by Christian communities from all over the world, and every art work reflects the national character of the country that sent it.
The History and Architecture of the Church
The first church was establishes during the Byzantine times, probably around the year of 427. it was built by Jerusalem’s Deacon (one of the 3 positions in the Christian clergy, next to the priest and the bishop), who was called Conon, as can be learned from the writing “Conon” on the mosaic floor, close to the cave.
The church was built as a large central hall, with a small monastery to the south. Few steps led to the holy cave that was almost completely separated from the church itself. In the year 670, Arculpus was speaking of 2 churches in Nazareth: Church of Joseph and The Church of Annunciation. The church was in use for about 700 years, during which several repairs were made.
After Palestina-Israel was conquered by the Muslims on 638, the Muslims demanded large payments from the Christians in order to permit the churches’ existence. However, its condition was getting worse until it was almost completely destroyed by the beginning of the Crusader’s Times around the 11th century.
When the Crusaders arrived to Nazareth, they found the church completely destroyed. Tancred, Prince of Galilee, has rebuilt the church and established there a marvelous, impressively large Basilica. The remains of this Basilica are integrated now into the new church which was built over Tancred’s church. This time, the site of Annunciation was located inside the church where stairs were leading directly to it. A small altar was built above.
its remains still exist today. It seems like the Crusader-era Church was never complete, especially when it comes to the artistic objects – five Romanic crowns found around the church can indicate on that.
Based on pilgrims’ descriptions we learn how magnificent the church was. The remains of the church show that it had at least 64 crowns. Several excavations exposed the church’s foundations: the Northern wall (integrated in the current church), as well as different artistic remains.
However, the Crusader-era church didn’t last for too long and was destroyed in 1263 by the Mamluk Sultan Baibers. The Christians’ source of pride became a symbol of disgrace. The place was deserted for many years in spite of the Franciscans’ efforts to settle down there, efforts that have failed. They encountered a hostile Muslim community and a government who refused to permit their presence in the area.
Eventually, around 1620, in the beginning of the Ottoman era, the Franciscans were allowed to return by the Druze Emir Fakr ad-Din. They have settled in Nazareth, close to the Church of Annunciation and were possession over the cave and the Basilicas’ remains from which they have built a modest monastery. Ever since then, the place is under to authority of the Franciscan Custody, although from time to time they were forced to abandon the place by the Muslims. However, they have always returned. In 1935 Emir Fakr ad-Din was executed and the Damascus Pasha revenged those who enjoyed his protection.
The Nazareth Franciscans were arrested for 6 weeks and released only after paying a large amount of money. In 1938 they had to leave again due to harassments of the Bedouins, but returned 3 years later. Pilgrims who visited Nazareth in 1644 has indicated that the area of the Annunciation Cave was still destroyed.
The Franciscans has managed to rebuild the church only around 1730, after Dhaher al-Omar, the Galilee governor, has permitted them to do so. They were only given 6 months for the mission – the time period requires for a Muslim to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and return.
As a result, the new church was modest and meant to provide immediate needs only, not reflecting its true Christians meaning. The church was small and consisted of a central hall and 2 secondary wings. The altar was built above the cave. Wide steps led down to the cave itself, with a hallway at the end called The Angel’s Chapel and 2 altars – one for Joachim and Anna and the other for Archangel Gabriel.
This room was used as a gateway for the Chapel. The Altar of Annunciation was in the center of the cave, with another Altar dedicated to St. Joseph in the back. In 1877 the church was renovated and expanded, and the fa├žade was rebuilt. In 1955 the current Church of Annunciation was built and the old one was destroyed. The monastery and Franciscan School were built next to it in 1930.
The Church Today
The Catholic Church of Annunciation is one of the biggest, most magnificent one in the Middle East today. It was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, built by Solel Boneh and established in 1969. The church has two stories which provide enough space for a large amount of worshipers as well as preservation of the holy cave and remains of the previous churches. The church is a powerful, monumental building inducing a sense of eternity.
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. This level is also where the remains of previous churches are preserved. The stone wall along the church and behind the cave has remained from the Crusader-era church from the 12th century. Excavations has revealed some Crusader-era capitols - some of the most beautiful pieces of art from those times, which are presented in the museum located under the plaza outside of the higher level.
The lower level presents the architectural fortitude required for building this church. Above, the marvelous lily dome is a symbol to Virgin Mary’s purity. On the marble floor you can find the names of the popes, and the large mosaic painting of the Italian painter Salvador Puma, describing Jesus, Virgin Mary and St. Peter, is located on front.
On the church walls, as well as in its yard, is presented an exhibition of mosaic paintings. Each painting was given by a different country and is reflecting the national motives of the country it was made at.
Source – Nazareth and its sites, Schieller, Eli (Editor), Ariel, 1982.

St. Joseph's Church
Free Entrance
Open Hours:
Winter - Monday to Saturday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Summer - Saturday to Sunday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
tel: 04-6572501
Note: Please dress modestly and speak softly.
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.
This Franciscan church was established in 1914 over the ruins of more ancient churches and is located in the Basilica of Annunciation area. In the crypt (the lower level of the church) there’s an ancient water pit, mosaics, caves and barns from ancient Nazareth that has survived since the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. One of the cave, according to tradition, was used as Joseph's workshop.
The church also reflects the Jewish roots of Christianity: in the past, the Christian prayers has accepted the Jewish bathe commandment and built ritual baths in the church to do so.
Description of the Church
The church is built in a Neo Romanski 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.
In 1950 the apses were decorated by an Italian artist. The main picture shows the holy family and an additional one is of Joseph only. Around the podium there’s an additional picture of the holy family. The windows decorations tell the story of the place as well.
History of the Church
The Crusaders built this church on the 12th century over earlier remains of another church from the Byzantine Times. This church was not commemorating the house of Joseph. this was probably a later tradition.
The Crusader Church was built in a style that was common in France in the 12th century: it had 3 arched enceintes and was divided to one big hall and 2 wings in a cross shape. The crypt on the lower level of the church was not changed during Crusader time.
After the Arabic occupation in the 13th century, the place was left in ruins for hundreds of years. In 1754 it was purchased by the Franciscans and they have built a chapel for St. Joseph. Later on, the Franciscans have managed to purchase the area surrounding the church as well. In 1908, archeological excavations were done there by Father Prof. Veo, who discovered the remains of the Byzantine Church from the 5th or 6th century.
He published his findings in the book "Nazareth and its Two Entrances", written in French. The foundations for building the church on this specific spot was the cave in the crypt, which was used as a residency cave on earlier times.

Greek Orthodox Announciation Church
Free Entrance
Open Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 7:00 -17.00
Tel: 04-6576437
Note: Please dress modestly and speak softly.
It is also known as St. Gabriel Church and Mary's Well Church.
This small church, with its fortress like appearance, is one of the most beautiful and unique ones in Israel. Following the Easter Christian tradition, this church has many wall paintings, statues and chandeliers. The sound of water sprouting out of the fountain inside, as well as its warm, bold colors, create a warmth, spiritual feeling.
This church is the most sacred place for the Greek-Orthodox community in Nazareth, and is built where, according to an ancient tradition, was the annunciation to Virgin Mary from Archangel Gabriel as she came by to draw water from the spring. The church was established during Crusader-Era times in the 12th century, shortly after the Crusaders’ occupation, then was destroyed during the Mamluk Era times by the Mamluk Sultan Baibers in the 13th century, and re-built during the Ottoman Era times in 1750.
History of the church
The church is built where, according to an ancient tradition followed by the Greeks and the Orthodox, Archangel Gabriel told Virgin Mary that she is about to conceive by the holy spirit and give birth to the son of god. This happened as Mary went down to draw water from the spring. The origin of this tradition is a late external literature called "Proto Evanglion for Jacob" (written, according to tradition, by St. James). Tradition also tells about Jesus the kid who followed his mother to this spring in order to draw water as well.
The church was established in the Crusaders-Era times, in the beginning of the 12th century, shortly after the Crusader occupation. Around the cave in the church you can still find remains of the Crusaders. During the Mamluk Era, in 1263, it was destroyed by Sultan Baibers along with the rest of the Christian churches in Nazareth.
Between the years of 1628-1634, the spring was in possession of the Franciscans, who built an arched room above it. However, on 1749 the Greek-Orthodox has received a charter from Daher El-Omar, allowing them to rebuild the church, and they have been in possession of the place ever since. In 1750 they have built the Greek-Orthodox church and called the "The Church of Annunciation”.
Description of the church
The church is divided to 2: the central prayer structure from the 18th century, and the more ancient, well preserved part from the 12th century, led to by an arched passageway padded with Ottoman tiles.
The crypt includes an elevated podium, and behind it is the fountain drawing water from the spring above the church, through the church itself to the water trough located on Mary's Plaza, also known as "Mary's Well”. The walls have an Arabic writing saying: "The annunciation to Virgin Mary nearby the spring”. An elevated water pit is located where the apsis starts, for the convenience of the pilgrims drawing the holy water from here. Above the altar you can see a picture dedicated to the annunciation.
The church is built in a typical Greek-Orthodox Galilee church shape: a massive building reminding some kind of a fortress. It's divided to a hall and 2 wings, with a square bells' tower above it. The altar was hidden by a decorated wooden partition (iconostasis) given as a gift to the church by a rich Greek merchant in 1767.
The partition is decorated with embossments and icons of mazy animals and other typical Greek iconography reminding the one in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and in Marsava monetary in the Judea desert
Behind the iconostasis, next to the altar, there are many ancient statues, though their origin and date are unclear. Some of them were given to the church by Russian pilgrims who were visiting many times in the 19th and 20th century.
The Moscowbiya, the Russian pilgrims' center, is located next to the church. The church was re-decorated in 1977-8 by Romanian artists, after previous decorations didn’t last the damages of time. The decorations are describing, among other things, the Annunciation given to Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel near the spring.
The church’s area includes a hall belongs to the Orthodox society in the city. This hall is used as a club, as a room for consoling the bereaved and other gatherings of the community. The hall was built thanks to a donation given from Baddia al-Nuss and is called after his father, Bishara al-nuss.

The Synagogue Church
Free Entrance
Open Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 8:00 -12.00 - 14.00-17.00
tel: 04-6568488
Note: Please dress modestly and speak softly.
The Arabs call it"Madrasset El-Massiach" (The Messiah Academy).
In the heart of the Market, between the stores, a small yard is taking us to a special church with a sign above its crossbar: The Synagogue. The unique structure, about 1.5 meters underground, has an arched shape with benches along the walls, a podium and an altar.
According to Christian tradition, this is where Jesus studied and prayed. In addition, this is where he carried his famous sermon on Saturday (Matthew 13, Mark 6, Luke 4), where he declared himself as the Messiah to his Jewish village members. This sermon infuriated the prayers and the dragged him to the Mt. of Precipice planning to push him downhill, but he jumped and disappeared.

During Byzantine Times, Christian believers have started attending the place, and on Medieval Times the synagogue was turned into a church and the Saturday Sermon story was ascribed to it. The Synagogue Church belongs to the Greek-Catholic community. Next to the historical Synagogue Church, a new church was built on 1887 (The New Synagogue Church), decorated with impressive wall paintings of Jesus as a baby, an adolescent and as a king which add a special picturesque, sacred atmosphere.
It seems like attributing this synagogue to the one where Jesus was praying is a late tradition, which started after the Byzantine Times, since all sacred Jewish places were destroyed during the Big Insurrection (67 A.D.), and most ancient Galilee synagogues are from the 3rd to 6th century.
Jesus Synagogue was supposed to be inside the ancient Nazareth village according to the writings as well, while this building is outside of the historical village borders. Years later, the building was destroyed and served as a shed. Only in the 18th century, when the Christians were treated better thanks to the Galilee Governor Daher El Omar, the Franciscans have started its renovation. The have passed it to the responsibility of the Greek-Orthodox who finished the renovation works and built there a chapel.

Mary’s Well (The Spring Plaza)
oppening hours: open all week - days & night
tel: 04-6011072
An archeological, holly site.
Near-by sites include the Orthodox Church of Annunciation and the Orthodox Church of Annunciation Museum.

Mary's Well (or Mary's Spring) was the city's main source of water. Some believe that this is where Mary used to bathe Jesus and wash his clothes, and that Jesus himself would come down to the pool and fetch water for his mother.

The plaza and the well were renovated and reconstructed for the millennium celebrations in 2000. Archeological excavations have uncovered the remains of tunnels and pools from different periods, and this is shown in an exhibition in the Meeting Hall of the City Council. The well's current shape is identical to the one in the pictures taken by the pilgrims in the nineteenth century.

The spring and its water are considered holy by both Muslims and Christians, and earlier generations attributed unusual healing properties to it. In the seventeenth century, bottles of water from Mary's Well were sent to France, and during the Middle Ages the Catholic Church granted forgiveness for sins to those who visited the site.

Mary’s Well History
The spring rises in a cave thirty meters north of the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Originally the public well was located next to the small pool that is now inside the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. But after the church was established, local people were barred from using the well and a replacement was built in the shape of a public water trough, to which the water was channeled from the church. The water was also used by farmers to irrigate their fields.

For centuries the public water trough was a gathering place for the city's residents and passers-by. Older residents recall it as being one of the most colorful places in Nazareth. Mary's Well is a site of religious, historical and cultural importance; the water trough and the large tree next to it have become the city's symbol and are used as the City Council's logo.

oppening hours: closed ( police station)
A large and impressive building located 50 meters west of Mary's Well. Established by the Russians in 1904 and based on the design of the templar architect Gottlieb Schumacher, the building was used as a hostel for Russian pilgrims that came to Nazareth. Today, the building houses Nazareth's police station and post office.

One of the reasons for the building's location is the nearby Orthodox Church of Annunciation, where Russian pilgrims prayed. The building was inaugurated in 1907 by Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, founder of “The Russian Praboslavian Society”. The building has two entrances, one for pedestrians, the other for carriages, and it includes a large, inner yard enclosed by striking facades.

The building seated about a thousand pilgrims and had a dining room, infirmary, pharmacy, school and a dormitory serving children from Russia and neighboring areas. The Moscowbiya Building symbolises the large influence that Russians had over the citizens of Nazareth, especially in education. Until recently you could still find Nazarenes who studied in the Moscowbiya and spoke fluent Russian.

Khan El-Basha
oppening hours : monday - saturday 7.30-15.00
entrance free
A public building with an historical significance. One of the most impressive Khans in Israel, waiting for renovation and preservation.

Khan is a Persian word, meaning an inn or motel. Khan el-Basha is the biggest, most impressive of the five khans built in Nazareth, and is named after Suleiman Basha, Nazareth's governor, who repaired the khan in 1814. The building, which is opposite the Basilica of the Annunciation, is used for offices these days but is scheduled for preservation.

Khans evolved during the Mamluk Era (1260-1516) thanks to the prosperity of trade between the East and the West. They were built along major roads, especially those between Damascus and Cairo, offering lodging for caravans and passers-by. When the Arab Empire started to fail at the end of the 11th century, roads were no longer secure and khans were used as safe havens. They also became collecting points for road tolls and part of the postal system of the Empire. Urban khans became commercial markets as well as providing storage room for merchandise and animals.

Khan el-Basha was built at the entrance to Nazareth. It consists of a large yard surrounded by domed rooms on three of its sides, while the fourth side is a curved colonnade. Originally, the khan had only one floor, but at the end of the nineteenth century an additional floor, with 10 accommodation rooms, was added. These rooms were used as a modern hotel named el-Hadges. An 1839 painting by the British oriental artist David Roberts shows the khan as the most impressive and prominent building of the city.

The khan is one of the assets of the White Mosque. Due to changes in methods of transport and the citizens' way of life, the khan lost its importance over the years, and parts were converted into workshops, storage houses and offices.
(Research by Sharrif Safadi)

Oppening hours : by appointment
tel : 04-6011072
This is a historic government building from the Ottoman era. Today it is empty but plans are that it will one day become the city museum; part of the renovation work is already complete.

The Seraya ("palace" in Turkish), one of the most important and impressive buildings in the city, was built in about 1740 by the famous ruler of the Galilee, Daher el-Omar, as his personal home and a government building from which he could safeguard the Jezreel Valley. The building also included stables and prison cells. The portico floor was added in the middle of the nineteenth century, and a renaissance style watch tower was added at the beginning of the twentieth century.

When the building was erected there were no mosques in Nazareth, so el-Omar allocated a prayer room for Muslims in the Seraya, until the White Mosque was completed in 1812. After el-Omar's rule, and until the British Mandate, the building was the official residence of the governor of Nazareth District. Later, the Seraya became the seat of the city's government. Nazareth City Council was located in the building until 1991.

Recommended walk through the Old City

Duration: 2-3 hours
This path is also known as the “Pilgrims Path” since it goes through the most holy Christian sites. This walk fits for all ages and covers the prettiest, holiest, most important historical sites. In case your time in the city is limited – this is the walk for you!

The walk begins at Mary’s Well (you can park in one of the many parking lots around). We will visit Mary’s Spring (El Sabil in Arabic) which was recently renovated. Immediately adjacent is the pleasant souvenir shop Cactus within which is the entrance to an Ancient Bath House. In front of it we can find the Old Bathhouse of Nazareth, where we would also visit. Today there’s a lovely store there, called “Cactus”. The Bathhouse visit entails payment and includes a guided tour and light refreshments. This Bathhouse was magnificently preserved and is dated all the way back to the Roman times, 2,000 years ago.

The next stop would be the nearby plaza where we visit the Greek-Orthodox Church, also known as the Orthodox Church of Annunciation and St. Gabriel Church. This is where, according to the Christian tradition, Archangel Gabriel appeared before Virgin Mary and announced her she would be carrying the Messiah in her womb.

After that we keep following the Pilgrim’s Path to the Nazareth City Hall and the Moscowbiya – a most impressive 100 years old building which was used as a hostel for the Russian Pilgrims. Today this building is used for the city’s Police station. Next we would go through 6098 St. to the Bishop Square. On the right side you can see the Greek-Orthodox Bishopric, a white building in the Greek style, facing picturesque houses, reminiscent of Venetian palazzos, which have recently been preserved and renovated. The house on the left is Writers’ House, an art institute. Then we keep walking along 6098 Street to Sebat Qa’war alley – Sebat is an architectonic arched building and Qa’war is the family to which this building belongs to. Then we reach the Folklore House (Beit al-Sebat), the home of Tanous Qa’war - Nazareth’s first mayor in 1875. Today the building houses a museum re-creating life in the Galilee from the last century (entrance fee payable).

From Folklore House we would turn left to Street 6132 towards the vegetable market, and then left again to Street 6089 where we can visit Casa Palestina - a beautiful mansion that was used to store barley in 1810; the building’s history would be told by the owners. Inside you can find a coffee shop and a handicraft gallery (free entrance).

Leaving Casa Palestina, we would pass through an arched walkway leading to the Seraya building, the Ottoman rule center since 1735. This impressive, beautiful building is currently undergoing preservation work in order to convert is to a municipal museum about the city’s history.

Back to the vegetable market, and then to the White Mosque courtyard with its pencil-like tower, where we would ask for permission to come inside and learn about its ancient history and the messages of peace and friendship characterizing the mosque. After that we would walk along 6133 St. into the well-preserved and restored Old City market, stroll through lanes and alleys leading off to the right and left and eventually get to the magnificent Basilica of Annunciation which a visit to Nazareth is never complete without.

Allow yourself to enjoy the delicious fare served in one of the many restaurants, and share a sweet moment with the baklawa and kenafi in one of the famous Eastern Nazareth candy stands.

Hidden Churches and Monasteries
Duration: About 1.5 hours
This is a charming walk of a steep decline in front of the view. The walk starts at the impressive, fortress like Salesian Church (Jesus the adolescent) on the top of the western Nabi Sa’in ridge. From there we take a sheer stairway, and go through several special churches and monasteries which are not part of the common tourist courses. The end of the walk would bring us to the Market and the city center. Recommended for the adventure lovers and the quaint walkers!

First we get to the Salesian Church by car, where you can park and take a look over the entire old city. After seeing the breathtaking view we would have a short visit in the church dedicated to Jesus the adolescent. The impressive church, with its unique architecture, was inspired by the French architecture, and its wonderful acoustics makes it an ideal place for concerts. Close the school entrance, which belongs to the church, there’s a long stairway taking us all the way down to the old city. We would take the stairway to a narrow passageway, where the first monetary is the Sisters of the Basilian Order’s Convent, where nuns of Lebanese descent are living. This is a very small Lebanese convent, hiding in Nazareth old city.

A little further down the street, there’s an impressive building (which is usually close): This is the Mensa Christi Church (Jesus’ Table). This church found its inspiration at the Mensa Christi Church located on the Kinnereth coast. Both churches claim they own a large stone table on which Jesus and his students used to dine. Its ancient paintings were recreated by the Venetian Preservation School. The keys to the church are in the hand of a woman who maintains the place and lives on the other side of the street.

Normally people would knock on her door and ask for the keys, then live a symbolic donation when the visit is over. Next to the Mensa Christi there’s the big Old Maronite Church which was built in the 18th century. The Maronite community in Nazareth is rather small and has about 1,000 people. A new Maronite Church was recently built, but the community continues maintaining the old one. Inside the church you can learn a bit about another religious part of Nazareth.

The end of the passageway arrives to a beautiful square, where we turn right to 6150 St. all the way to the Anglican Church – an English country church, another interesting building hidden between the old city’s alleys. We take the Anglican Church stairs to 6167 St., leading to the Sisters of Nazareth Convent. The convent yard is beautiful, and the basement contains interesting archeological findings, dated back to the Second Temple times.
Following the passageway we’d go through the market and then reach the impressive Basilica of Annunciation, which no visit to Nazareth is complete without. From there we go down to the noisy Paulus VI St. and get a cab back to where we parked the car.

Walk through the Market
Duration: about an hour
This walk goes through Nazareth’s famous market and is suitable in case you have a very short time and wish to enjoy the Old City’s atmosphere and walk through the varied market stores.

The Old Market of Nazareth is one of the most fascinating markets in Israel. As part of the Y 2,000 preparations the whole city was renovated, and so was the market. Its special charm is in the fact this is not the common tourist Market as we know it. It definitely maintains a lively, active merchant atmosphere, attracting customers from the city and its surroundings. Need examples? The entrance to El Basharra St. (The Annunciation St.) has a famous large group of the traditional candy stores. This is the right place for you to enjoy the famous hot Nazareth kenafi.

If we go through the Market’s main street, take a right at the end and then left, would take us to a small alley (6133) where you can still find craftsmen such as metal smiths for primus stove repairs. Later on, around what used to be the vegetables market, there are several smoking-bottle houses as well as the famous Nazareth Bride’s market, where wedding outfits are being sold (not wedding dresses, though).

The Nazareth Market also includes an important Christian site – The Synagogue Church. This is an old church from the Crusader-era times which, according to tradition, used to be the synagogue where Jesus used to pray. This church belongs to the Catholic-Greek community.

Night Walk Through Illuminated Sites
Duration: About 1.5 hours
This walk is very similar to the “Hidden Churches and Monasteries” walk, apart from the fact it takes place at night. Nazareth and its sites hold a special magic at night time: the sacred atmosphere and the illuminated monuments create a night walk that becomes an unforgettable experience.

Other than the famous Church of Annunciation, there are many illuminated sites in the city of Jesus Christ. Tareq Shihada, director of the Nazareth Cultural and Touristic Association, suggests on a night walk starting on St. Gabriel Church all the way to the old city:

Leaving St. Gabriel, which is an illuminated convent used as a motel, you go down to Saint Margaret, a pilgrims’ hostel illuminated as well. The gate takes you into a magical garden in which you can find a door leading to the rooms on the left, and then to the building’s balcony. From there you can see the marvelous view – The old city of Nazareth, Jezreel Valley and the Samaria Mountains beyond it.

Next stop would be the Salesian Church (Jesus the adolescent), beautifully illuminated. You can park on the road underneath and take the stairs next to the Blue House into the old city passageways. From this Vantage point you can see luminous monuments such as: the lighted Basilica of Annunciation, The White Mosque, The Synagogue Church, and The Greek-Catholic Church, built where according to tradition used to be the Nazareth synagogue on Jesus times. Further walking leads us to the Mensa Christi (Jesus’ Table Church). You can visit one of the painted ceiling houses and then continue to the Market’s alleys – the market may be closed, but is still lighted and provides a beautiful night walk.

This is where Tareq Shihada recommends on a little stop in one of the market’s coffee shops where you can have a drink, perhaps a smoking bottle, or maybe even a big dinner in of the restaurants around (Nazareth, by the way, is known to have a lively, interesting night life).

The Association provides several continuing options: walking along the Pilgrims Path while passing by the old city’s buildings to Mary’s Well and the Greek Orthodox Church (which is illuminated as well), a visit to the Ancient Bathhouse and finish in one of the coffee shops – restaurants around Mary’s Well; Continue walking through the lower part of the market all the way to the Basilica of Annunciation (where you can have a close look at the lighted church) and there go to the Al Rida restaurant or keep going to one of Nazareth’ famous candy stores; A night visit to the Nazareth Village (by appointment).

The Mount of Precipice
oppening Hours : oppen all the week - days & Nights
Email :
Mt. of Precipice, located in the entrance to the city (when coming from Afula), was identified in the Christian tradition as the mountain from which the Nazareth people were trying to push Jesus after he infuriated them with his sermon, declaring himself as the Messiah (Luke 4). The village people dragged Jesus to the mountain top, but ion the last moment he has managed to jump off the mountain and disappeared. The mountain was sanctified in an ancient era, and in the 8th century, 8 of the 12 priests in Nazareth were living on this mountain. On the mountain’s western side there are still remains of the Byzantine convent.
The Jewish National Fund has performed some development works there and provided an organized parking lot on the mountain top, from where you can take a paved lane, accessible for wheel chairs as well, to the magnificent observation point on top of the mountain.
The sheer sloped mountain, 397 meters high, provides one of the best, most beautiful observation points over Yizrael Valley and its surrounding mountains: The Carmel Mountains, The Gillad Mountains and the Tabor Mountain. On the way back you can take a different path overlooking the views. This path (easy though inaccessible for wheel chairs) goes through a small stoned structure, used as the forester's house during the British Mandate times.
The mountain's official name is Mount Kdumim, due to a cave found on this mountain (Kdumim Cave) with findings from The Prehistoric times. The cave is closed to visitors today. Many legends were attributed to this cave by the pilgrims. One of them says that the cave was opened up as a hiding place for Virgin Mary, or for Jesus, as he was about to be pushed from the mountain top.
A new road leading directly to the observation point is being paved these days.

The Ancient Bath House
opening hours : Monday - Saturday 9.00-19.00
by appointment
Tel : 04-6578539- 050-5384343
Email: Website:
An archeological site, a 2,000 years old Bath House.
Payment includes a guided tour and light refreshments.

In 1993, when Elias Shama and his Belgian wife Martina started their art and souvenir shop Cactus next to Mary's Well, they could not have imagined what would they find underneath the building. During renovation works they discovered a large and ancient bath-house, which experts have been dated to the Roman era and the time of Jesus. They have continued their excavations and can now show visitors an extensive and well-preserved archeological site.

Today there are guided tours of the Bath-House, including the underground heating tunnels (hippocaust), which are the most impressive in the Middle East. Elias can share with you his insights into the history of Nazareth and show you historical documents confirming that the Bath-House existed in ancient times. The guided tour includes light refreshments served in one of the halls of the Bath-House.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mark,

It is a Crusader bath not from Jesus time.