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Things to Do in Nazareth

According to the Christian faith, Nazareth was home to Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ. Located in northern Israel, this once-sleepy village is now a bustling metropolis full of Ottoman-era mansions and Roman ruins. Lofty churches, mosques, and temples pepper the city, along with both Christian and Muslim holy sites. 
The Basics
Nazareth is an important Holy Land site on par with Bethlehem, Haifa, and Jerusalem. Here you can find some of the most beautiful churches in the Middle East, such as the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Gabriel, and St. Joseph’s Church. The White Mosque is also a must-see, along with the Peace Mosque and Ela-Nabi Sa'in Mosque. For a taste of Nazareth’s diverse culture, visit the Diwan El Lajun, a multicultural performing arts center. 

Nazareth is a popular day trip destination from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Most tours last at least a day, and some multi-day excursions visit Nazareth along with other important Holy Land sites such as Jericho, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee. Private tours are also available for a personalized experience. 
Things to Know Before You Go
  • Nazareth is a must-see for history buffs and culture lovers. 
  • Remember to dress modestly if you plan to visit churches or mosques—you should cover up from your shoulders to below your knees. 
  • Because this is a predominantly Arab city, most stores and restaurants are open during Shabbat on Fridays and Saturdays.
How to Get There
Nazareth is located in northern Israel, near the borders of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. By road, the city is roughly two hours from Jerusalem and 90 minutes from Tel Aviv. It’s possible to travel by bus from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, although be aware that public transportation does not run during Shabbat or on Jewish holidays.
When to Get There
You can visit Nazareth year-round, although Israel’s weather is most pleasant during spring and autumn. Most restaurants and stores close on Sundays. 
Holy Sites in Nazareth
The Basilica of the Annunciation is a modern church built upon Crusade-era ruins, the remains of which are still visible on the lower level. The site’s mix of architectural styles and stunning works of art make it one of the most unique churches in Israel. Mary’s Well is another important spot, known for its beautifully restored Roman arches.
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Church of the Annunciation (Basilica of the Annunciation)

Consecrated in 1969, the Church of the Annunciation (also known as the Basilica of the Annunciation) is the largest church in the Middle East and one of the most important religious sites in Nazareth. The Roman Catholic Basilica was built on the spot where, according to Christian belief, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus.

The modernist structure stands in stark contrast to other churches in Israel. The upper basilica serves as the parish church for the Roman Catholic community and features concrete pillars showing the Stations of the Cross, Italian ceramic reliefs and a series of wall panels donated by Catholic communities from around the world. This upper portion of the church also offers interior views of the church’s cupola.

Below lies a sunken enclosure, called the Grotto of the Annunciation, where visitors can see remnants of older churches from the Byzantine and Crusader eras, as well as the believed site of Mary’s house.

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Church of St. Joseph

Situated across a courtyard from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is the small Church of St. Joseph. Built in 1914, the neo-Romanesque Franciscan church was constructed over the remains of an earlier church and above a series of stone chambers believed to be the workshops of Joseph the Carpenter. The entire church and the caves below are rather simple, particularly in comparison with the basilica next door, but well worth the detour.

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