Located about 104 kilometers north of Tel Aviv is the city of Nazareth. Today it is Israel’s largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Two thousand years ago it was just a small village. Located in this city is the Basilica of the Annunciation. Its dome is an icon of the Nazareth skyline.
A church has been located on this site for centuries. It is here according to Catholic tradition, that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. He announced she would conceive the Son of God.
The new church is built over other churches from the Byzantine and Crusader eras. Remnants of these churches are still visible on the lower level as seen in the featured image of this post. Also in the lower level is the grotto where many believe Mary lived. The grotto can be seen beyond the fence in the first picture below as well as in the closeup showing the altar in the grotto.
Grotto in the Basilica of the Annunciation (Grotto) – Nazareth, Israel
The church, which is built over the lower level, is very modern. It is the largest Christian sanctuary in the Middle East and was dedicated in 1964 by Pope Paul VI.
On the interior walls of the church are mosaics from different countries from around the world.
A short walk from the Basilica of the Annunciation is St. Joseph’s Church. Once again a church has been built over a cave. It is believed the workshop of Joseph was located in this cave. Both the basilica and St. Joseph’s Church are Catholic churches.
In the past 2000 years, Nazareth has grown from a tiny village to a city of approximately 80,000 people. It has become a center of Christian pilgrimage due to the annunciation as well as it being the village in which Jesus grew up. It is from here that his teachings took him to Galilee which is where our next day will take us.