As one of the most unique cities in Israel, there are plenty of things to do in Nazareth that will keep you occupied and interested. Located in the Galilee region in the north of the country, this city is surrounded by a stunning natural landscape and is home to some of Israel’s most important Christian holy sites. As the largest Arab city in Israel proper, Nazareth has become a coveted stop on any Holy Land itinerary. If you’re scouting out things to do in Nazareth, here are a few fascinating places to add to your list:
Nazareth Old City
Wander around the aged stone walls of the Old City of Nazareth for a real feel of the city’s history. As there are many interesting religious sites in and around the Old City, this is a great place to begin your tour of the city. You’ll find churches and other Christian sites spotted around the Old City, as well as local restaurants serving the most authentic Arab-Israeli delicacies.
Basilica of the Annunciation
While the current construction of the Basilica of the Annunciation is from 1969, it was built on the site of former Crusader and Byzantine churches. It is the biggest Catholic church in the Middle East. As per Catholic tradition, the church sits on the same site of the house of the Virgin Mary and where Gabriel the angel appeared to her to tell her that she would birth Jesus Christ. For this reason, this site is religiously significant and considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Holy Land. In addition, you can find some great mosaics of Mary and Jesus inside the church that have been donated by Catholic communities worldwide.
Wander through the bazaar for an unforgettably sensory experience. Here you can shop for souvenirs, clothing, local treats, or just enjoy practicing your haggling skills. One thing is for sure, the shuk is one of the best things to do in Nazareth if you’re looking to spend some time people-watching and having a purely Middle Eastern experience.
St. Gabriel’s Church
Constructed in the late 17th century, St Gabriel’s Church is definitely on the list of the best things to do in Nazareth. According to some, Gabriel appeared to Mary at this church and not the Basilica of the Annunciation. Though this is of course a disputed fact, it does mean that this church is highly significant to many people. One of the main draws of St Gabriel’s Church is hidden in a crypt. Inside, there is a natural spring that provides water to the church’s well.
Also known as the Virgin Fountain, Mary’s Well is located not far from St Gabriel’s church. According to legend, the waters in Mary’s Well have healing powers, making this a popular draw for devout Christian tourists. The well has become a popular as both a tourist destination and also for the locals. As such, there are many great cafes and restaurants nearby that are perfect for a quick lunch break. In the same square there are many festivities during Christmas time in Nazareth.
Another one of the interesting things to do in Nazareth is to walk around and admire the unique Ottoman architecture abundant in the city. Originally built for rich merchants, these impressive former homes are notable for their beautiful frescoes and colorful facades. They’re no longer in tip-top shape as they were during the Ottoman era. Nevertheless, their historical significance is interesting enough to still merit a visit. A perfect example of the Ottoman architecture is the El-Rais house. It features a striking red-tiled roof and towering pillars of marble. Inside you can visit 13 different rooms that include stunning painted ceilings. The El-Rais house was the former dwelling of Daher el-Omar, the Governor of the Galilee. Today visitors relish in seeing the old Ottoman architecture on display.
Mount Precipice is also known as Mount of Precipitation, Mount Kedumim, and Mount of the Leap of the Lord. While located just outside the city, it is still one of the great things to do in Nazareth. This mountain is notable from the Gospel of Luke for being site of the Rejection of Jesus. It is said that here Jesus was rejected as the Messiah and he was pushed from the mountain. Mount Precipice is also the site of some fascinating archeological excavations. Ancient human remains where found in a cave and have been the subject of many scientific studies. During his visit to Israel, Pope Benedict XVI held a mass on Mount Precipice with 40,000 people in attendance.
Located in the center of Nazareth’s Old City and by the Shuk (bazaar), the White Mosque is noted for its pencil-shaped minaret. It is also an example of Ottoman architecture with its green trim and done as well as its cream walls. The White Mosque was completed in the early 1800s and the construction was funded by Egyptian ruler Suleiman Pasha. The White Mosque got its name as a symbol of a new era signifying purity, light, and peace for all faiths represented in Nazareth.
There are plenty of things to do in Nazareth that are sure to keep you busy for days. Our travel experts are Mazada Tours are here to make sure that we create a tailor-made itinerary that suits your tastes. You can let us know what your preferences are and which sites you’re dying to see. Our experts will create the best itinerary for Nazareth and your entire Holy Land tour. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today to get started on building your perfect Nazareth and Holy Land tour.