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Israel tour guide > Nazareth

Nazareth

Most obviously famous as the site of the Annunciation, where, as the Gospels record, the Archangel Gabriel announced the imminent birth of Jesus and John the Baptist to Mary. Today, little of the ancient settlement remains and the largely modern city that has sprung up in its place is a melting pot of races and religion. However, thanks to the Byzantines and the Crusaders, who oversaw the construction of several magnificent Churches, the city is well worth a visit.

Two different Churches claim to mark the site where the Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary. The first is the Basilica of the Annunciation. This Church is divided into two levels. The upper level is a modern Church dating from 1969 and contains many splendid religious mosaics and works of art. It is built over the remains of earlier Byzantine and Crusader Churches, which make up the lower level. Within this lower level is the Grotto of the Virgin where the tourist and pilgrim alike can admire further artistic dedications to the Virgin Mary.

Another tradition holds that the Angle Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mother of God as she was drawing water from a well. Mary's Well may once have been the only water source in the town and it is likely that Mary and the infant Jesus used this well on a daily basis. The nearby Church of Saint Gabriel, built above the gurgling spring that feeds the well assures the site's religious significance is not forgotten. The Church is a Greek Orthodox renovation of the original Crusader structure.

Other tourist attractions include the Church of St. Joseph, which is built over the site where Joseph practised as a carpenter and would have taught Jesus the rudimentary of his craft. Other than the religious sites that dominate the town, the Old-New Market, which specialises in local produce, is well worth a visit.

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