Nazareth is the city in which the childhood of Christ passed. Nazareth is a famous pilgrimage center, attracting visitors primarily for its history and religious attractions. It is the most Christian city in Israel and the only one in which Sunday is a day off. The population of the town is 76,551, approximately 31% of which are Christian Arabs of different congregations, and about 69% are Muslim Arabs (as of 12/31/2010).
Nazareth is a city that everyone recalls first of all when a central person in Christianity is mentioned, because it was here, according to religion, that Jesus Christ was conceived. The city has a great many religious attractions – for example, the Church of St. Joseph, which is believed to be on the site of the former carpentry workshop of Jesus of Nazareth. Or Well of the Virgin Mary, which was previously the only source of water in the city.
The Annunciation Cathedral, built in 1969, is one of the most important religious buildings. The lower level of the temple is the grotto in which the Virgin Mary lived. The interior decoration is simply striking in its elegance and sophistication; there are ceramic bas-reliefs, subtle mosaics, and beautiful frescoes. Nearby is another remarkable building – the Church of the Archangel Gabriel, whose construction took place in the 17th century.
During the preparation of the city for the celebration of the 2000th anniversary of Christianity, its historic district was significantly changed. First of all, it became a pedestrian, traffic here is completely blocked. Besides, a new system of excursion and pilgrimage routes was developed. Walking along the footpaths, you can admire the panorama of the city and explore the main remarkable places.
The most ambitious project was the “Nazareth Village,” it was supposed to completely recreate the image of the settlement, which 2000 years ago was on the territory of the modern city. Many buildings were erected, the primary building materials were clay and sandstone blocks. Several terraces were founded on the area of the village, fruit trees and vineyards were planted.
Besides the fact that the city has a rich religious and historical heritage, it is also famous for its healing mineral springs located within 20 minutes’ drive from the city and magnificent nature. Numerous lakes and ponds, reserves, and parks or the Lower Galilee are great for walking, and some tourists even prefer to camp on the shores of one of the lakes and completely immerse themselves in an atmosphere of tranquility and solitude.
Mount Tabor is an important religious shrine for Christians; it is located in the immediate vicinity of Nazareth. The height of this mountain is 588 meters. It is notable for its regular rounded shape. According to the Gospel, it was at the top of this mountain that the Transfiguration of the Lord took place. Once upon a time, there was a small temple on the top of the mountain, but it was destroyed in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, two monasteries were built in its place, which is now available for pilgrims to visit.
In addition to the Christian, there are Muslim attractions in Nazareth. An excellent example is the White Mosque. This is the oldest of the three existing mosques in the city, its construction lasted 30 years and was completed in 1815. Built in the classical Ottoman style, the mosque has traditional decorative elements and elegant hand-made carpets decorated inside.
The unique historic district of Sepphoris is not far from Nazareth, where researchers discovered the ruins of the same name’s ancient city. This city’s first mention dates back to the 1st century AD, and it was a large, prosperous capital during King Herod’s reign. After several major earthquakes, the city fell into decay, and after it was utterly devastated by the crusaders. Today, visitors to the archaeological area of Sepphoris (Tzipori in Hebrew) can see preserved fragments of the fortress wall, and the ruins of palaces that once belonged to wealthy residents of the city.
An important Catholic attraction of Nazareth is the Church of St. Joseph, the very first church in its place was built during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. The crusaders built a new church on the old foundation in the 12th century, but later in the 13th century, the church got destroyed by an Arab invasion; a small chapel was built by the middle of the 18th century right on the ruins of an ancient temple. It was rebuilt in the temple in 1914, and today it is a vivid example of the Romanesque style. Many people visit this church only to admire its centennial frescoes and see beautiful windows with colored stained-glass windows.
The miniature church of Mensa Christie is also an important sightseeing site. An important Christian shrine – a stone slab – is stored in its walls. According to tradition, after the resurrection of Christ, she served him as a table for a meal, a unique stone can be seen next to the altar of the church. A few years ago, the church completed the reconstruction, during which its ancient frescoes were restored.
But not only religious attractions are in the city – for kids, it will be interesting to visit water parks, zoos, national parks located in Nazareth and its environs. As mentioned above, It is certainly worth a visit to the so-called “Nazareth Village” – an authentic ethnic-museum showing the life of the ancestors of local residents in pre-Christian times. Here, children will be able to get a lot of new and interesting information, and later show off their knowledge at school, surprising even some teachers with some facts. Tours to the Fakhur clay factory are organized in Nazareth, and the children are happy to listen to the story of the factory and how pitchers were made over the centuries. And all this is not only told, but also shown.
Restaurants and cafes that prepare the best sweets in the city are the best suited to complete a wonderful holiday in Nazareth. So, visiting Almahdi Sweets, you can find a large selection of oriental sweets, each of which you want to try. Do not deny yourself and the children this pleasure, especially since they are all cooked with high quality. Another exciting place is called Mahroum, here you should try delicious cakes, and if you look at the Chocolatte Gelateria Espresso Bar, you should definitely taste chocolate cakes and ice cream desserts. Another great place is called Almokhtar Sweets, and it is worth giving preference to amazingly delicious cakes.