Caesarea and Nazareth – the holy cities of Israel


Nazareth, Nazareth.

Nazareth (Heb. נָצְרַת, Natzrat; Arabic. الناصرة, an-Nasyra; Greek Ναζαρέτ (Ναζαρὲθ, Ναζαράθ, Ναζαρά); Latin Nazareth) is a city in Galilee, northern Israel. It is a holy Christian city, third in importance after Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Here, according to the Gospel, the Annunciation took place and the childhood and youth of Jesus Christ (because of this he was called “Nazarene” or הנוצרי – “a-notsri”, that is, “inhabitant of the city of Nazareth”).


Orthodoxy in Nazareth [ edit ]

Modern Nazareth is home to the Grotto of the Annunciation, above which is built the largest Catholic Church of the Annunciation in the Middle East (1969), the picturesque Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel and the Holy Spring above the Virgin Mary spring, the Mount of Descent from which, according to tradition, the people of Nazareth wanted to overthrow Jesus and after which he left the city forever (the mountain is sometimes falsely called “jump mountain” – direct translation from Hebrew), as well as many other Christian churches.

In the vicinity of Nazareth are the Sepphoris National Park (the ancient Jewish city of Zippori, the parental home of the Virgin Mary, the remains of a Crusader fortress and other archaeological sites) to the west of the city, Mount Tabor (site of the Transfiguration of the Lord), the village of Nain, Kfar Cana east of Nazareth, where Christ performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at his wedding.

Historic (i.e. Lower) Nazareth is populated by Israeli Arabs, about 31% of whom are Christian Arabs of different faiths, and about 69% are Muslims (as of 12/31/2010), so Nazareth is the most Christian city in Israel, and also the only city in the country where Sunday is a day off.

Sanctuaries [ edit ]

  • The source of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is in the crypt of the temple in a separate narthex with an altar set up above it
  • Above the throne there is the miraculous icon of the “Annunciation at the Pantry”.

Temples [ edit ]

Church of the Annunciation (Nazareth) [ edit ]

Nazareth, Church of the Annunciation Nazareth9

The Church of the Annunciation over the spring of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Nazareth is also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel. This church is built on the holy spring to which the Virgin Mary fetched water and at which the angel appeared and said, “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women”.

The Fountain of the Most Holy Theotokos is in the crypt of the temple in a separate vestibule with an altar set up above it. Above the throne is the miraculous icon of the “Annunciation at the Pantry”. It belongs to the Metropolitan Church of Nazareth of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church.

In Nazareth, there are two ancient temples dedicated to the Annunciation. The second one is Catholic.

Address: Nazareth, Anis Kardosh str. 2

Directions: From the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation walk up Paul VI Street or El Bishara Street up to the square with the well of Mary. The Orthodox Church is behind the square above the well.

Where to stay [ edit ]

The Pilgrimage House of the Russian Spiritual Mission is located 31 kilometers from the city of Nazareth (in Tiberias).

  • Pilgrim’s House in Tiberias – “The House with the Vaults”

The pilgrimage house of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Tiberias, also known as the “House with Vaults” or “El Yakud,” is located in the historic center of the city on the shore of Lake Galilee. Adjacent to the building is the Greek Orthodox monastery in honor of the Twelve Apostles. Nearby you can see a fragment of the ancient city wall, built in 1100 and the ruins of the cathedral of the Crusader period. Opposite is the Leonardo Hotel. A plot of land with the ruins of the ancient building, consisting of five rooms with semicircular vaults, was purchased by the head of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Antonin (Kapustin) in 1879.

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The pilgrim’s house in Tiberias – “House with vaults” – is visited through the Pilgrimage Service of the Russian Spiritual Mission.

Address: Yigal Alon Promenade, 248, (Hebrew – Tayelet Yigal Alon), Tiberias, Israel.

Phones: +972 (2) 625-00-94 (The Russian Spiritual Mission’s pilgrimage service)

Photo [ edit ]

The Source of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation


(Arabic .الناصرة, an-Nasyra; Hebrew נָצְרַת, Natzrat) is a city in northern Israel. With a population of 75,000, it is the largest Arab city in Israel, with a mix of Christians and Muslims.

General Information

Nazareth is well known as the city in which Joseph and Mary and therefore Jesus lived, although he was born in Bethlehem.

Many places sacred to Christians in Nazareth are associated with the Annunciation and the childhood and early years of Jesus. In addition to the impressive Basilica of the Annunciation, attractions include the Orthodox Greek Church of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, built over the spring of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Greek-Catholic Synagogue Church (the supposed place where the young Jesus studied and later read the Book of Isaiah the Prophet) and the Franciscan Church of Saint Joseph, built over a grotto that was identified in the 17th century as Joseph’s cave-workshop.

As the place where Christians believe Jesus grew up, learned and lived most of his life, Nazareth has been identified with Christianity for two millennia and has attracted hundreds of millions of pilgrims from around the world. Nazareth is also the largest Arab city in Israel and, as such, serves as a major cultural center.

In the last decade the historic part of the Old City has been largely renovated, preserving and restoring the architectural beauty and unique character of its narrow streets. The combination of these three elements – history, culture and architecture – gives the Old City of Nazareth a place among the most attractive historical destinations in the world. Tours from Russia with a visit to Nazareth can be found here.

A short video about Nazareth

How to get there

By plane

By bus

Nazareth is 102 kilometers from Tel Aviv and 131 from Jerusalem. Take bus number 823 or 826 from Tel Aviv at the central bus station (closed on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays). The trip will take you about 2 hours.

From Haifa from Merkaz station to Nazareth there is a bus number 331 for about an hour. This station is open daily, including the Sabbath and holidays.

From Jerusalem there are 2 buses to Nazareth (number 955) every day except for the Sabbath and holidays. There is a transfer from Afula.

In summer, there are daily buses from Amman and back (less frequent in winter). Transportation is provided by the Nazarene, tel. 04-6010458.

By car

Prepare for the worst, traffic is usually difficult. The roads are in poor condition, there are almost no signs, the organization of parking spaces is ill-conceived. Be careful on steep serpentines and narrow dead-end streets. These are all crazy, cramped Arabian streets. Only brave people can drive a car in this city.

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GPS-navigator is a must, though not always reliable.

When the season. When it’s best to go

Nazareth – Monthly weather

Where to stay?

Hotel Fauzi Azar, Old city. Tel: 04-6020469, e-mail: [email protected] The Fauzi Azar Inn is the best place to start your journey through the Galilee and Nazareth. A bicentennial Arab mansion located in the heart of the market quarter of Nazareth, near the Central Bus Station and the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Galilee Hotel, The hotel is on Paul 6th Street north of the post office. Tel: 06-6571311, fax: 06-6556627, e-mail: [email protected] Located close to the city center, 4 minutes walk to the main tourist center. The hotel can accommodate 200 persons in 92 rooms, each with air-conditioning and bathroom.

Grand New Hotel, 5053/1 Har Hamutran Street, tel: +972-4-6085400, fax: 972-4-6573020, e-mail: [email protected] The hotel is located at one of the highest points of Nazareth, on Hamutran Hill, in a quiet residential neighborhood. The hotel has 90 rooms overlooking Nazareth, the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Isreel Valley.

Nazareth, PaulusVI Street (near the junction with Haifa Rd), Tel: +972 (0)6 577 777.

The Rimonim Nazareth Hotel (Ha’Maayan), Paulus VI Street, Tel: +972-4-6500000, Fax: +972-4-67500055. The hotel is located in the center of the Old Town, next to the Church of the Annunciation, the Suk Market, restaurants and other attractions for tourists. The hotel has 226 comfortable rooms with air conditioning, cable TV, radio, room safe and connected fax modem. For business travelers, secretarial services, a business lounge, meeting room and conference room are available. Covered parking is available at the hotel.

Nazareth Plaza Hotel, 2 Hermon Street, tel: +972-4-6028200, fax: +972-4-6028222, e-mail: [email protected] The Nazareth Plaza Hotel overlooks the historic part of the city. The hotel is located near the industrial area of Migdal-ha-Emek. This location is convenient for excursions to religious sites in the Galilee and travels to the north of Israel.

Golden Crown Hotel Nazareth, 2015 Mt. Precipice Street. The hotel is located at the southern gate to the city, along the Steep Cliff (Mt. Precipice), which overlooks the amazing scenery of the picturesque Isreel Valley.

Samira Guest House, Sibat Kawar St. 6098/10 Nazareth – 16000 (Guesthouse located in the heart of the Old City), Tel: +972 (0)77 551 72 75 . Staying at Samira Pension puts you in the heart of the Old Town. There are many religious sites within walking distance, including the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the White Mosque and the Basilica of the Annunciation. Sami, the owner and manager of Samira Guesthouse, is a hometown to Nazareth, and he knows a lot about Nazareth and its people. Sami speaks English, Arabic and Hebrew and will be able to give helpful advice to visitors to the city regarding sights, restaurants, ways to get around, the best places in the Galilee, etc.

Nazareth Hostel Al Nabaa, 6137, Nazareth, Israel (next to Mensa Christi Church), Tel: 052-8766053, e-mail: [email protected] A guest house owned by Tony, Basma and their two children, Sally and Geris. Tony speaks English, Arabic and Hebrew. The hostel is in a wonderful location near the Old Town, close to the main churches and the market. It offers beds in shared rooms as well as private rooms with or without bathroom. There is a beautiful garden with fast and free Wi-Fi. The price includes breakfast with a hot meal. This place is worthy of high praise and excellent recommendations.

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Compare prices for Nazareth hotels from different booking services here. Book a room in advance on the popular booking site. Private apartments for rent can be found here.

Main attractions. What to see

Basilica of the Annunciation

Built over the grotto of the Annunciation, which, according to general Christian tradition, was the home of the Virgin Mary and the place where her Annunciation (the message of the Immaculate Conception of Jesus) took place. The large, impressive modern church is built on the ruins of churches dating back to the Crusader and Byzantine eras, evidence of which is still visible on the first level of the building. The basilica boasts a dozen paintings donated by Christian communes from around the world. The largest church in the Middle East and one of the Christian shrines is crowned by a dome towering over the skyline of Nazareth. If you don’t know where to begin your visit to the churches of Nazareth, start there.

The basilica is also the place where the Archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that God had chosen her to bear his son. The complex of the modern basilica consists of two levels. The lower level, considered the site of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, contains remnants of Byzantine and Crusader churches. The relics unearthed during archaeological excavations date back to the time when Nazareth was inhabited by Canaanite tribes. Among the most interesting finds is a typical Nazareth house from the Roman period carved in stone.

The upper level was built between 1959 and 1969 on the site of an 18th century church in a remarkably modern architectural style. Stained glass windows stand out against the bare stone. A garden and back courtyard link the Basilica with St. Joseph’s Church and Joseph’s Cave Workshop. Admission to the Basilica is free. Visiting hours are Monday through Saturday from 8:30 to 11:45 and 2 to 5:50 p.m.; Sunday and holidays from 2 to 5:30 p.m. In winter, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 to 11:45 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Chapel of Our Lady in Fear

According to legend, Mary heard the furious people of Nazareth dragging her son up the cliff to topple him into the abyss, and she rushed after him. When she rose up, she was seized with great fear. This event was commemorated by the erection of a small Orthodox Greek church.

The well of the Virgin Mary and the ancient baths

The buildings surrounding the well of the Virgin Mary (el-Sabil in Arabic) have recently been renovated and restored to their original condition. The well has become a symbol of Nazareth. Next to the well there is a small gift store called Cactus, owned by Elias and Martin Schama. After buying the store in the 1990s, the Shama brothers discovered under the floor what has been the most exciting and important discovery of recent history in Nazareth: a network of perfectly preserved ancient stone vaults that support giant baths. It is believed that these baths date back to the ancient Roman era, that is, to the time of Jesus. The water that flowed into the baths was the same water that supplied the well of the Virgin Mary. There is a fee to visit this place, but no advance reservation is required. Visitors are provided with a guide if needed and cold and hot drinks are available.

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El Babur.

The Mill of Galilee, located in the middle of Bishar Street, tel.046455596. Go through the small door on the right side of the street and follow the smell to the large store, which was originally a mill more than a hundred years ago. The store now offers a wide variety of oils and spices that please both the eye and the nose.

Diwan El Lajun.

Multicultural Theater Arts Center, tel. 046469413. This theater cafe is located in a picturesque place with an abundance of arches. Here the stage arts are combined with traditional craft work. The Diwan El Lajun Café Theater hosts plays in Arabic, English and Hebrew, as well as bilingual performances, concerts of folk music, literature, poetry and dance evenings, storytelling performances and circus shows from Israel and abroad. There are also Arab-Jewish meetings for adults and teens, and classes in theater, storytelling, belly dancing, traditional crafts, and Palestinian embroidery. The cafe theater is located at 6098 Sibat El Kaawer Street, close to the market. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The shows are given on weekends or by special order for organized groups.

Nazareth Village

If amidst the hustle and bustle of modern Nazareth you find it hard to imagine Jesus performing miracles, step back 2,000 years to Nazareth Village. Daily life and commerce in a traditional Galilean village is duly recreated with a cast of actors during the closing hours of the main tours of the working farms. Leave your fears about the horrors of old world poverty behind in the historic theme park.

Makam Shihab ad-Din.

Shrine of Islamic martyr, one of the nephews of Saladin Shihab ad-Din, the general and Muslim leader who died at the Battle of Hattin. The tomb is a small structure with a green dome and includes the tomb of Shihab ad-Din with a mosque on top. It is situated in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Al Nabi Sain Mosque

The most beautiful mosque in Nazareth with its imposing golden dome, two floors and the tomb of Al-Nabi Sain. There is no prophet named Sain in Islam, it is just the name of the mosque. In front of the mosque is a large reservoir of water.

White Mosque

This is the first mosque in the city, which was built by Sheikh Abdullah al-Nini two hundred years ago. El-Nini was a highly respected judge and the first of the al-Fahoum family (al-Fahoum means “the wisest of men”). He set forth principles that preached love and respect. To be sure that the principles would be followed after his death, he wrote in his will that the management of the affairs of the mosque would be given to the wisest of his sons, daughters, or the wisest of the Ka’ba in Mecca. Until today, the person in charge of the mosque (Ateph El Fahum) is required to study all sermons before they are recited to make sure they are appropriate, and during the festivals of other religions, sermons are recited in their honor. The mosque is open during daylight hours without prior arrangement, except during prayer hours. It is advisable to dress modestly and speak softly. Take your shoes off before stepping onto the carpeted floor.

An old Ottoman house with painted ceilings (can only be visited as part of an organized group).

Churches and temples. Worth a visit.

Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Built over a spring where, according to orthodox tradition, the Virgin Mary drew water every day. According to Greek Orthodox tradition, it is believed that it was there that the Archangel Gabriel informed the Virgin Mary of the impending birth of Jesus. The Orthodox museum is closed. The temple workers are quite temperamental and are known for shouting and kicking pilgrims out of the church without any reason.

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Coptic Church of the Annunciation. This church is considered the site of the Annunciation of Mary according to the Coptic Orthodox tradition. The church was built in 1952 by the Coptic community of Nazareth.

Church of St. Joseph. Located next to the Basilica of the Annunciation. The church, also known as St. Joseph’s Workshop, stands on the site where, according to legend, there was once a carpentry workshop of St. Joseph. It was built in 1914 in Romanesque style on the foundations of the Crusader church. Visiting hours are daily from 9:00 to 11:45 and from 14:00 to 17:30.

Synagogue Church. A small Melkite Greek Catholic church which was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century. According to Christian tradition, the church is built on the site of the ancient synagogue in which Jesus prayed and studied, and it is also the same synagogue where Jesus gave his famous sermon on one of the Sabbath days in which he declared himself the Messiah. The church is located in the heart of the Old City.

Mensa Christi Church. A small Catholic church built in 1781. The church is known for being where the resurrected Jesus dined with the apostles at the “table of Christ.” The church is under the care of the Franciscan Church.

The Salesian Church of Jesus the Forsaken. The largest church in Nazareth, known for its architecture. The basilica is located on the highest point of the city, so it offers a panoramic view of Nazareth.

Museums. Worth a visit

What to see in the surrounding area

Megiddo Hill. World Heritage Site. A Biblical hill with an underground water system.

Beit Shearim. Talmudic Jewish necropolis.

Sepporsis. A Roman city known for its synagogue and marvelous mosaics. The Church of St. Anne stands on the site of the home of Joachim and Annas, also the Jewish holy burial place of Jehud ha-Nasi (other versions of the holy texts consider Beit Shearim his burial place).

Nein. A place of remembrance of the Resurrection of the son of the Nein widow. Next to the main mosque is the Franciscan church, which is maintained for pilgrims by a family of Arab Christians who live across the street from the church. The village itself is Muslim.

Nabi Dahi. The burial place of Dahi Bin Khalit al-Kalbi, who was the envoy who delivered the message of the Prophet Muhammad to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius I. The tomb is located on the hill of Givat Ha Moreh, at the highest point of the Dahi settlement.

Bethlehem of Galilee. German Templar city in the late 19th century.

Mount Tavor. The site of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On this site are the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches. In the garden of the Catholic Church are archaeologically significant fragments of the mountain, belonging to different periods.

Cana of Galilee. The marriage site at Cana of Galilee, where Jesus Christ performed his first miracle during the marriage feast.

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