Nazareth Mini Guide
What can you Tell me About Nazareth?
Most people know of Nazareth as the home of the parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and then the childhood home of the founder of one of the world’s great religions. What most people don’t know is that, despite the city being one of the main Christian pilgrimage centres, it’s considered to be the capital of Arab influenced Israel and is the largest Arab city in Northern Israel. Whilst elsewhere this may cause conflict, the sizeable populations of Arabs, Jews and Christians live together peacefully and have often been cited as a model for peace. Many of the sights of the city are based around the lives of Jesus and his mother.
How do I get to see Nazareth?
There are no really close international airports so most people fly into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport
which takes flights from all over Europe and the Middle East with many from the UK
, including an easyJet budget flight and BA and El Al operated routes. The airport is around 75 miles from the city and whilst no buses go there directly, you can connect in Haifa
. The same applies to trains. There is a railway station at the airport but you’ll need to change at Haifa. If you hire a car, the journey is around 90 minutes but follows an interesting route.
What is there to See and Do in Nazareth?
There are a number of fascinating places to see in Nazareth, mostly connected with the life of Jesus. The main one is the Basilica of the Annunciation built over countless former churches on the site of where Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel and told that she would be bearing the Son of God. There’s also a church built over the reputed site of Joseph’s workshop nearby.
One of the more fascinating sights in Nazareth concerns the Roman bath house which is believed to have been fed with water from the same well that Mary used and was found by accident underneath a gift shop that opened to satisfy the needs of tourists. Now almost fully excavated, the underground site can be visited by tourists for a small fee which includes an excellent explanation of the layout.
What Should I Buy in Nazareth?
Again, as you’d expect, many of the available souvenirs are religious based and range from the attractive and worthwhile to the cheap and tatty. Many Christian visitors like to take home a memento of their visit and probably the best is a guidebook or their photographs maybe accompanied by an icon of the Virgin.
What is There to eat in Nazareth?
As it’s a mainly Arab town, the food on offer is Arabic in nature. Whilst there, try falafel, hummus, flatbreads, the delicious mint and bulgur wheat tabbouleh and for a sweet tooth, the dried dates and baklava. Finish off your meal with a strong Arabic coffee or a refreshing mint tea.
How do People Celebrate in the City?
Be warned that with a high proportion of Arab citizens, brash behaviour, drunkenness and other behaviour common to tourist destinations is unacceptable there. Any celebrations tend to take place within the family home and are quiet affairs. If you’re looking for nightclubs, bars etc., you’ll need to try elsewhere.
Most people go to Nazareth for only one thing, to visit the sites associated with Joseph, Mary and Jesus. They are rarely disappointed. The Basilica of the Annunciation is the largest church in the Middle East and is built on the site where Mary received God’s message from the Angel Gabriel.
There, it’s possible to go down into the depths of the Basilica and visit churches from Byzantine and crusader times over which the Basilica was built. Hire a car to visit the nearby Greek Orthodox Church built over the well where Mary was said to draw water each day.