Nazareth: Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus

On January 6, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

Most of us know the biblical significance of Nazareth. Jesus grew up in this city in northern Israel. His family lived here. But, that’s where, for many, our knowledge of the story stops. For some travelers, Nazareth doesn’t make the list of places to see in Israel, mainly because they run out of time. But, if you’re planning on exploring northern Israel and the Galilee area, consider adding this city to your itinerary.

We started our visit at the Fauzi Azar Inn in the Old City of Nazareth. This guest house used to be the home of Fauzi Azar and his family. After being empty for many years, his granddaughter, Suraida Shomar Nasser, decided to re-open the home as a place for travelers.

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Welcome to the Fauzi Azar Inn!

The Fauzi Azar Inn is also near the starting point for the popular Jesus Trail. This is a 65-km hiking trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, connecting important sites from the life of Jesus.

During the past few decades, Nazareth hasn’t always been very welcoming. Businesses closed up and moved out, while drugs and crime moved in. But, the Fauzi Azar Inn has been one of the new businesses that has helped revitalize the once seedy old city.

The streets are now safer and people are more than willing to help you out with anything you need. We experienced this first-hand when we got lost driving through the winding, narrow streets of the city. Once we parked our car (since you can’t drive IN the old city), we’d ask someone every few blocks to see if we were going in the correct direction. They were happy to help us out.

Once we had a map, Nazareth was easy to navigate. One of the city’s main attractions is the Basilica of the Annunciation. This is the place where Mary received the message that she would give birth to Jesus. Inside the church, you can see the modest stone structure that is said to be Mary’s home. Our favorite part of the site is outside the church. There is mosaic artwork from other countries in recognition of Mary and Jesus. It’s amazing to see the different interpretations from countries all over the world.

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The Church of the Annunciation is built around the home of Mary.

Another main attraction is Mary’s Well. This is right next to the main square in the downtown area. Here is where all of the people of the city, including Mary, used to come to gather water. People can no longer drink from this well, but there’s still a structure commemorating it.

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The well where Mary gathered water during her day.

Nazareth is 30 percent Christian and 70 percent Muslim. So, one of the major attractions for Muslims is the White Mosque. This is a traditional Ottoman mosque that was built in the 19th century. You can’t miss it because you can see its tall minaret in the center of the old city.

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Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations in Nazareth.

We were lucky because we visited Nazareth right after Christmas. So the city still had a post-Christmas glow, including a Christmas tree in the center square. In our opinion, Nazareth is definitely worth a day-trip.

-O.L.

3 Responses to “Nazareth: Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus”

  • Lovely pix … do you know when the present-day Church of the Annunciation dates to?

    • Interesting story – first designed by Barluzzi in 1954 but although cornerstone was laid it was stopped in 1958. Muzio designed the church in 1958 and the Israeli construction company Solel Boneh built it during years 1960-69. More details at http://israel-tourguide.info/2013/06/12/church-annunciation-nazareth/

      • I read at the Basilica that it was built in the 60’s. I thought that was interesting, given how historic most of the major churches in Israel are (Church of Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Nativity, etc.). It’s also a very different design than any church we have visited, and that includes the churches in Europe. Ancient stories meet modern history…

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