Located in the fertile green hillsides of the Galilee, Nazareth is a bustling modern city with a rich religious history. Known for its role as the childhood home of Jesus, Nazareth was also the traditional home of Mary and Joseph. It is a center for Christian pilgrimage that hosts many sites and shrines commemorating events from the bible.
Today, the city is a commercial and cultural center for the Israeli Arab community, known as the Arab capital of Israel as almost 70 percent of the population is Muslim and 30 percent Christian.
Christian pilgrims flock to the city to get a glimpse of a number of religious sights, many of which are clustered around the market and Paul VI. Street.
Among Nazareth's more than 20 churches and monasteries, the Church of the Annunciation is by far the most prominent; it is the largest church complex in the Middle East and marks the site believed to be where archangel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary.
Mosaics and art line the walls and grace the courtyards. St. Joseph's Church, or workshop, is another popular site, built atop the cave that is said to have served as Joseph's house.
Inside the structure are the remains of a Byzantine church and a number of caves that once stored grain and oil.
The nearby Greek-Catholic Synagogue Church marks the site of the synagogue where Jesus preached.
In addition to the many churches and shrines, visitors can also make their way to Nazareth Village, a recreation of the town as it was during the life of Jesus during Roman times, 2000 years ago.
The village is lined with traditional stone houses and villagers dressed in costume perform activities such as weaving, wine making, and carpentry.
The outdoor market, or souq, is another fun place in the city to get a glimpse of local life, experience the bustle of Middle Eastern life, and even buy a few souvenirs. Many tourists make a day trip or a group trip here from places such as Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.