Whether you're planning a trip to Nazareth for your first time or just want to take in the local scene, there are plenty of things to see and do here. From walking the city to enjoying a cafe, here are some ideas for what to do.
Church of the Annunciation
Located in the northern part of Israel, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. It marks the place where the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her that she would conceive a child.
The Annunciation Church is built over the site of a cave believed to be the home of the Virgin Mary. Archaeological excavations have revealed six layers of construction at the site. The lower level contains remains of previous churches.
The upper level is a Roman Catholic parish church. There is a large mosaic of Mary on the top floor. The lower level has a small building with a statue of Jesus the boy. There are also confession cells. The lower level is slightly dark.
During the years that Jesus was growing up in Nazareth, he attended religious services in the synagogue. He read a passage from the Book of Isaiah and delivered a sermon that changed the lives of many. He challenged the way people understood the Jewish faith and made them angry. He claimed to be the fulfillment of a promise. His sermon, based on Isaiah 61, was an early example of a Messianic prophecy.
When a group of local Jews heard Jesus deliver his sermon, they tried to throw him off the cliff. He escaped from the cliff by jumping, but his preaching had infuriated the crowd. The story is described in the Gospels of Mark 6:1-6 and Luke 4:14-30.
The Synagogue Church in Nazareth is a 12th century Crusader structure. The building was constructed on the site of the ancient synagogue that Jesus used as a child. The church is now managed by Melkite Greek Catholics, who make up about 25% of the Christian population in Israel. The church is situated in the Old Market, right next to the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation. It is open on Monday to Saturday.
Located in the heart of Nazareth, the Ancient Bath House is a relic of the Roman era. Historians have divided the building into various periods, with the earliest construction dating to the Greek or Roman period in Palestine.
A North American team has undertaken high-resolution ground penetrating radar surveys, which seem to confirm the presence of additional subterranean structures. The design of the bathhouse indicates it must have been much older.
The bathhouse is a good candidate for the site of the Annunciation. The book of James mentions the angel Gabriel visiting Mary at the well. However, Christians differ on the exact location of the site.
The ancient Roman bathhouse also emphasizes the uniqueness of the city of Nazareth. The building was constructed during the time of pilgrimage business in Nazareth.
Cafe Abu Salem
Founded in 1914, Cafe Abu Salem is Israel's oldest coffeehouse. This family-run establishment has served the community since its opening. Originally a men's only establishment, the cafe later began to welcome women. The business was reopened by Andrew Abu Salem's grandson, Wissam, in 2007.
The restaurant serves a traditional drink called baladi. Made by infusing dried hibiscus petals and lemon, baladi has a natural sweetness and lowers blood pressure. Traditionally, the drink was given to women after giving birth.
Another popular drink at Cafe Abu Salem is a cinnamon-walnut tea. This traditional tea is made by steeping cinnamon bark for hours. Then it is mixed with walnuts, and served in Turkish teacups.
The cafe also offers traditional foods such as hummus and falafel balls. The hummus is served warm, and is best eaten fresh. It is accompanied by small salads.
Walking around the city
Located in the heart of Galilee, Nazareth is a Christian pilgrimage site. It has a rich history and plenty of attractions. You can explore the city on a tour that includes a professional local guide. This tour is ideal for romantics and those who want to experience the life of Jesus Christ.
The Old City of Nazareth is full of stone steps, narrow streets, and picturesque courtyards. It also has many cute shops and street food stands.
The Annunciation Church is the largest Christian house of worship in the Middle East. It's built on a crusader foundation and is home to the Grotto of the Annunciation. It contains a mosaic floor dating back to the 5-6th century. It's open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, except for Sunday.