Nazareth is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Considered a Holy City by Christians, it is the place where Jesus spent his childhood and youth. In Hebrew it is known as Natsrat, which indicates that Jesus was a Nazarene and therefore his followers were Nazarenes, (Notsrim in Hebrew).
Located in the Galilee region, this city is first mentioned as a Jewish city in the New Testament about 2000 years ago. In fact, it remained so even after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70ce. After the Byzantine victory over the Persians in 614ce, Jewish Nazareth was destroyed.
The City of Nazareth then became a stronghold of Christianity. Throughout the Byzantine period, it was the cradle of Christianity, and even until today maintains his reputation for spirituality, holiness and faith.
Its wealth of history is intriguing. Nazareth’s first church – the Church of the Annunciation – was built at the traditional site of Joseph and Mary’s home. It is believed by Christians to be the place where the Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary, and told her that she would bear a son.
The significance of this Church of the Annunciation cannot be underestimated and has, of course, paved the way for the establishment of other Churches. Next to it is the Church of Saint Joseph where, according to Christian history, Joseph had his carpentry shop.
Today, the city is surrounded by approximately 30 other churches, in addition to mosques and ancient synagogues.
Whilst in Nazareth a visit to the Old City Market is highly recommended. Renowned for its wide variety of fabrics, local foods, spices, wooden carvings, and other souvenirs, it offers visitors offer an authentic Middle Eastern experience.