Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Our first visit to Nazareth was with a small group led by an incredibly knowledgeable guide.  We were the first passengers to be picked up in a mini bus from our hotel in Haifa on that Saturday. The trip was advertised  in the Haifa Tourist Office as a tour to the Christian sites.  It was "A really lovely and interesting tour," we were told.  There were six people in the group, a nice number, including a portly couple from Argentina.

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

We travelled onto Capernaum, not far away. We were not disappointed, "When are we stopping for lunch?" We heard.   The couple wished to remain on the bus, the driver, therefore, was invited to join us for this visit, as there were spare entry tickets and he could use up one.

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.


keiko amano said...


I envy you travelling in Israel! I wish I can go there someday and see that window.

Hope to see more photos and your narration.

Snowbird said...

What a fascinating post. I have always wanted to visit Nazareth so it was wonderful to see your pictures and hear of the places there.I really enjoyed this!xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an interesting, and informative, post.
When were you there, and presumably you enjoyed yourselves. Flighty xx

Anonymous said...

Following this with interest!

ZACL said...

Thank you Keiko. Believe it or not, I still have to do some sorting of the photos. Even finding them was an art!

ZACL said...

Thank you Keiko. Believe it or not, I still have to do some sorting of the photos. Even finding them was an art!

ZACL said...

Hi Snowbird,

I'm glad the post meant something for you. It gave me a chance to return to memory lane.

ZACL said...

Hello Mr F.

We have visited a couple of times recently. The experiences were very interesting though different. xx

ZACL said...

Hi GillyK,

I thought you might connect. :)