Located at the heart of Nazareth, the Church of Annunciation is said to be built right above the first century home of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Being so, here, according to the Gospels, Jesus was conceived. The place is venerated since the 4th century CE and attracts many Christians pilgrims to this day. The Current church, completed in 1969, is the biggest church in Israel and possibly in the whole Middle East. Its unique “Brutalist-eclectic” design reflects well the 1970’s, in both its architectural style, and some of art works. Its courtyards and inner walls is adorned with dozens of Icons, gifts of Catholic communities from all around the globe.
Archaeology of the Church
The church presents some of the remains of the previous churches built at the same spot. They were exposed in archaeological work done in the 1950’s before the construction of the current church. These excavations also uncoverd various finds from the first century, the time of Jesus. Some of the recovered artifacts are today on display in the museum of the church.
Nearby Points of Interest
Next to the church, the home and carpentry of saint Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, is venerated at the Church of Saint Joseph. Built in the early 10th century, here too finds were made that date the first century. Just out side the church additional finds from the first century were recovered in recent years during the construction of Mary of Nazareth International center.
A stroll in the nearby market leads to another point of interest, one with a one has one-of-a-kind name – the Synagogue Church. Here, by local tradition, Jesus preached for the first time about his messianic role.
At the northern end of the old city is “Mary’s Well” (which is really a spring). The Saint Gabriel Church, built over the source of the spring, is by Greek-Orthodox belief the site where the angel appeared to Mary for the first time, announcing on her divine conception.
Downtown Nazareth is also a great place to try the local Arab cuisine. Especially famous is a local desert called knafeh, and the great diversity of salads, Kebab, and barbecue.