Early wake and it’s a beautiful day. It’s now time for history and biblical culture after the modernity and vibrancy of Tel Aviv. First stop Nazareth.
As we all know Nazareth is best known as the home of Joseph and Mary and hence also Jesus, although he was born in Bethlehem. A number of Christian holy places in Nazareth are associated with the Annunciation, the childhood and the early ministry of Jesus. In addition to the imposing Basilica of the Annunciation, these sites include the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel (built over the freshwater spring known as “Mary’s Well”), the Greek Catholic “Synagogue Church” (assumed site of the synagogue where the young Jesus was taught, and where he later read from Isaiah), and the Franciscan Church of St. Joseph (built over a cave identified since the 17th century as the “workshop” of Joseph).
As the place where Jesus may have grown up, studied and lived most of his life, Nazareth has for two thousand years been closely identified with Christianity and has attracted hundreds of millions of pilgrims from around the world. Nazareth is also Israel’s largest Arab city and as such serves as a major cultural center. Over the past decade the historical Old City has been extensively renovated, preserving and restoring the architectural beauty and unique character of its narrow lanes and alleys. The combination of these three elements – history, culture and architecture – assures the Old City of Nazareth a place among the most beautiful historical destinations in the world.
We only got to see the Church of the Annunciation and the many mosaics that have been donated to the church representing all the different ways Jesus and the Virgin Mary are the depicted around the world. See the gallery below and pay attention to Asian and African images.
The church of annunciation was established at the site where, according to Roman Catholic tradition, the Annunciation took place. Greek Orthodox tradition holds that this event occurred while Mary was drawing water from a local spring in Nazareth, and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation was erected at that alternate site.
The current church is a two-story building constructed in 1969 over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era and then Crusader-era church. Inside, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary. Under Roman Catholic canon law, the church enjoys the status of a minor basilica.A historically significant site, considered sacred within some circles of Christianity, particularly Catholicism, the basilica attracts many Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Christian visitors every year.
From Nazareth we headed north to a beautiful observation over the Valley of Armagedon (Megido) where, according to the scripts, the site of the final battle of Armagedon will take place. Our next stop will be on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We visited Mt. of the Beatitudes over looking the lake. From there we will head to Capernaum – where Jesus spent most of his adult life and where he began preaching and then we visite Tabgha where it is believed that Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and where of course we had a fish-based fantastic lunch.
Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is home to a celebrated Byzantine-era synagogue as well as the house where Jesus healed a paralytic and St. Peter’s mother-in-law.
Next, drove along the shore of the Sea of Galilee to the origin of the Jordan river and visit the Baptismal site where you, if you want, can have the chance to get baptised. Actually a number of people were there wearing some some sort of Baptismal pijiamas and dove into the (quick dirty river) full of massive cat fish. The level of commercialization of the place was incredible. You could buy bottles (even 5 litres bottles) so you could bring Jordan River’s water home. I found highly unadvisable for health reasons. Plus we paid some 2 euros each to use the (only available) toilets in the premises. I’m sure Jesus would disapprove that.