Tag Archives: Basilica of the Annunciation

Nazareth – the Churches

1/21 – After our morning in Nazareth Village, we spent the afternoon checking out the churches. The Basilica of the Annunciation is the largest Catholic church in the Middle East. Completed in 1969, it was built over several previous churches on the spot where Mary’s house might have been, when she and the Angel Gabriel met. image

We arrived right at noon, in time to hear all the bells pealing (drowning out the noon Call to Prayer from the White Mosque across the street), and a chorus of Ave Maria (which we haven’t heard since France). A priest came out to perform the daily blessing in the grotto that looks down into excavations from earlier churches.image

The basilica contains images of Mary provided by countries around the world. I love seeing her image reflected in every race and artistic style.

The American contribution is one of the more, shall we say, non-traditional.image

Next to the basilica stands the Church of St. Joseph, who had a big role in the raising of Jesus, but doesn’t usually get that much press. I really loved the images portrayed here.

Joseph’s visit from the Angel Gabriel.image
Joseph and Mary raising their son. image
Mary and Jesus caring for Joseph in his old age.image

Up the street is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.image

We were consulting our Google Maps for the location, when a helpful passerby told us to keep walking until we saw the big tree. When we got to the square, we did indeed see a big tree! They take Christmas very seriously here in Nazareth – although January is almost over, there is still tinsel and Santa all around the town. image

The Greek tradition has the Angel meeting Mary out at the well to give her the news, so Mary’s Well is here, and bottles of the water from the well are for sale. I loved the images here too – how often do you get to see the Disciples’ knees?

We passed the Church of Christ’s Table – not sure what this one commemorates, so I’ll let you read the sign yourself:

Up on a hill is the Church of Jesus the Adolescent. imageHometown Hero – all ages of his boyhood are celebrated here!

Konya back to Istanbul to Tel Aviv to Haifa to Nazareth, Israel

1/19 – It’s time to say farewell to Konya, and move on. We hopped on a one hour Pegasus flight to return to the Asian side of Istanbul. Istanbul is a transportation hub, and we opted to fly to Israel instead of traveling overland. We will be in Israel for 10 days. It will be good to get back where it’s warm!

1/20 – Got up at 4am to get to the airport for our dawn flight.



We landed in Tel Aviv two hours later. The Ben Gurion Airport is big and sparkling. All the signage is in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


We passed through Customs and requested a paper visa instead of a stamp on our passports. Some countries refuse entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. We’re not planning to visit any of those countries, but got the paper visa just in case.


The train station is right next to the airport, and we caught the 10:05 train to Haifa. The 90 minute ride put me right to sleep, so I didn’t get any pictures – sorry! Haifa is on the Mediterranean coast, with lots of beach, and looked very pretty from what little we saw from the train.

From Haifa, we caught the bus to Nazareth, and in an hour we were in the place where Jesus grew up. The bus let us off at the Basilica of the Annunciation, the very spot where Gabriel told Mary she would become the world’s most famous teenage unwed mother.

We will explore in more detail tomorrow.

Our goal today was to get to the bookshop that sells the guide for the Jesus Trail, that we will walk over the next few days.


Jim asked the proprietor her heritage, and she explained that she is Arabic, and that Nazareth is an Arabic community, the largest in northern Israel. The Arabic name is An-Nazeera. She said they used to be Palestinians, but when their grandparents agreed in 1948 to live in the new state of Israel (so they could keep their homes), they became Arabs living in Israel. She taught us our first words in Arabic: Marhaba for hello, and Shukara for thank you. These are similar to the Turkish words! We have found that these are the words we need most often, and we’ll get a lot of practice this week.

Tomorrow, we explore!