While visiting Israel, tourists must not miss the opportunity to see Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus and one of the most important Christian sites in Israel. In fact, visiting Nazareth is quite an old habit of Christian pilgrims, who have been coming there since the 4th century.
Just 88 miles north of Jerusalem, Nazareth is located between the Jezreel valley and the Galilee mountainous regions. Over 2000 years ago, it was quite an insignificant little town. Though it was inhabited continually, it gained significance only in the 5th century, when the first church of the Annunciate was built.
Nazareth offers a mix of races and religions. It is the largest Arab city in Israel, with 60,000 Christian and Muslim inhabitants living side by side in harmony. Most of the archaeological findings in the city consist of cisterns, caves and grain storage bins. The heart of Nazareth is the Old City, comprised of two parts: the historical and religious core and the markets, mansions, and houses of the city itself. The touristy area of the city was expanded, so while visiting there you will reach its ridge and from there continue to the city and its churches.
The holy sites are all located inside or underneath the various churches, the most famous of which are the Church of St. Joseph and the Church of St. Gabriel. Grotto of the Virgin, where according to Christian belief Virgin Mary was informed by an angel she will become a mother, is a pilgrims’ must-see and a tourists’ long time favorite. According to the apocryphal Gospel, the actual place of this announcement was St. Mary’s well at the Church of St. Gabriel. The Church of St. Joseph is another main attraction. Known as the supposed location of Joseph’s carpentry shop, the Church of St. Joseph enjoys many visitors as well.
Most tourists spend some time in the Mosque quarter as well. Located in the center of the market, the Mosque quarter was built in 1812 during the ruling days of the Ottoman Empire. Another beautiful square in the old city is the “Author’s House Square”, where the Bishop’s residence is located.
Old Nazareth is a popular tourist attraction for everyone who visits the holy land: its history, views and the unique atmosphere make it a great site for some one million tourists and pilgrims who visit the city annually – and for a good reason.