The intention was to tell us how to read icons at the first church, The Church of the Annunciation. The icons, though, had all been removed for renovation. Instead we wandered round the compact building and before we left, were introduced to spotless public toilets. The young Serbian Girl, who was paired up with an Israeli boy, made her obeisances on arrival and departure, while he looked on respectfully.
|Church Of The Annunciation|
We all piled back into the bus, some more agile than others and headed off for the ancient market at Nazareth. From the back seat came a loud questioning whine, "When are we stopping off for lunch?" The guide politely answered, not that anyone knew the location she mentioned.
The roads were really busy, this being a mainly Arab area and a day of business. It was less busy on a Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - than it would be on any other day of the week. Traffic was usually at a standstill, at least we were moving, even if slowly. At the next traffic jam, we got off the bus and headed on foot for the ancient entrance to the Nazarene market.
Here, in the alley, were ancient features to be pointed out. The souk (shouk) was smaller than its sister market in Jerusalem, it was very manageable, a lot quieter, mostly frequented by local shoppers. We were whisked through, at the same time I was keeping my eyes open for a reel of thread and sewing needles. Traders looked at us curiously, what did we look like, I wondered. There weren't any other visiting groups.
We then headed for The Basilica, a predominating structure on a hill. The Argentinian couple said they did not want to see more churches, they had enough at home. They made themselves comfortable in the courtyard, while we went off with the guide to look at the tiled pictures around the courtyard, depicting cultural aspects of the international Roman Catholic communities who had donated to the building of the Basilica. From us, she learned about St Andrew and his cross, both of which, featured in the Glasgow tiled picture. The magnificent Basilica doors, (see one below) told the religious story. We were then left to explore the Basilica and surrounds. Some people entered. I could not be bothered to queue to see through the bars of a gate, what might have been Mary's home.
I was much more excited by the ancient, (B.C.E) streets to be seen, excavated at the time the Basilica was constructed. It stands on stilts, thereby giving a very clear view of the outline of ancient houses and roads, also, the domestic implements which lie there. As well, there are Byzantine tiled walls. Mary's well was round the corner. It is said she would have drawn water from it. One side looked presentable, the other was not, and had distinct pong of a urinal...pity.
Back on the bus came the recognisable questioning whine, "When are we stopping off for lunch?" Our next stop, (which the Argentinian couple bowed out of, preferring to sit on the bus) was the ancient Benedictine Monastery of Tabgha, I hesitated on the threshold. It had a Byzantine mosaic floor, which went back to the 4th Century C.E. (A.D.) "Go on" said the guide, " Walk on it,that's what it was made for." Silly me, of course it was. The Alabaster windows were stunning, backlit with bright sunlight.
|Alabaster Window-Chapel- Tabgha|
I'll tell you about Capernaum which was yet another wonder, in another post. Suffice to say that after this stop we went to a rest and refreshment stop, where the hungry couple ate to their hearts' content.