Where We Be
The most important sight in Nazareth is the Basilica of the Annunciation where, according to
the Bible, an angel told Mary, "Thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus"
Nazareth, Israel
We were surprised to discover Nazareth sits on
a hill some 40 miles from the Sea of Galilee. The
landscape is gently hilly, and from here you get
a good view of the surrounding countryside.
What was once a small village is now the largest
city in the North District of Israel and is known
as the "Arab capital of Israel," so it's a bit hard
to get the feel of what the place would have
looked like back in the days of Jesus, who grew
up here working in his father’s carpentry shop.
That said, we enjoyed getting to see the Basilica
of the Annunciation, one of the most important
sites in the world for Christians. This is the
place where, according to the Bible, Mary was
greeted by the angel Gabriel with the news she
would bear the son of God. This announcement
(or Annunciation) has been depicted thousands
of times in paintings and artwork from around
the world. What’s particularly inspiring about
the Basilica is that it preserves, in the altar
area, the actual cave in which Mary is said to
have been living at the time. Having a cave in
the altar area makes for a truly unique church.
The church is of recent construction but leaves in place the remains of four earlier churches built on the same spot
This mosaic is from the Vatican and depicts the Annunciation as well as Jesus healing the sick
The main doors depict important events from the Old Testament and New Testament
The church is built right over the Grotto of the Annunciation. The bottom floor of the church is intentionally simple, focused on the cave itself.
Having a cave dwelling in the altar area makes for a truly unique church. Mary is said to have lived here when she was visited by the angel.
The second floor of the church is more ornate, suggesting the glory that can come from simple beginnings
Stained glass and dramatic paintings depict a triumphant Jesus
Another nice touch are all the mosaics of the Mother Mary and baby Jesus from around the world. Each mosaic bears characteristics of the contributing
nation. The one from Japan (right), for instance, depicts them in kimonos with oriental features. The one at left is from the U.S. and the middle from Hungary.
The statue at left is from India, the mosaic in the middle from Brazil, and the statue at right from China
Our guide Sharif explains how the new church was built over the remains of an earlier 12th century Crusader church
We also paid a visit to the attached St. Joseph Church, which according to tradition is located where Joseph's carpentry shop stood
Underneath the entire Basilica are more caves, granaries, and wells that are said to have housed the villagers of ancient Nazareth