A fascination for the spiritual, historic places, adventurous trails besides discovering the wild and wonderful aspects of Nature have always been close to my heart. This time, I decided to take off into a journey of peace, tranquility and to discover the holy aura of the sacred city of Nazareth. I have always been intrigued by Nazareth, the little town where Jesus grew up. As I explored the ancient town of Nazareth which is the capital city of the northern district of Israel, I was inspired by the interesting sights, archeology, the Middle Eastern charm combined with the modern culture.
An old and revered historic city, Nazareth is located in Lower Galilee and is the largest Arab city. Being the hub of Christian pilgrimage, Nazareth has been associated as the boyhood home of Jesus. It was here that Jesus preached in the synagogue and was rejected by the people. I walked around the Nazareth Village where excavations had taken place and noticed with awe the 2000-year old winepress carved into the bedrock. The ruins of terraces, watchtowers and a vineyard stretched silently having witnessed the greatest phenomenon of Jesus and His miracles. I could just imagine Jesus walking around as people gathered from far and near to hear of His wondrous parables.
Traveling Through a Kaleidoscope of Sights
As the day rolled into a balmy afternoon, I wondered about the life of people of those times as I took in the sights of the stone quarries and the spring-fed irrigation system. It was asked in that time if anything good would come out of the small and almost insignificant, Nazareth not knowing that the prophecy of ancient times would come true in the form of a Messiah.
As a must-see pilgrimage center for a believer, here I was, actually reliving the past where stupendous incidents took place causing the little town of Nazareth to take pride of place on the map. My spirit of adventure took over and I wandered through the ancient paths, alleys and the maze-like streets of the old city of Nazareth. I found myself right in the middle of Shuk or bazaar which was teeming with life, color and awash with the smell of spices with the sound of the muezzin calling people to worship. Buzzing with vibrancy, the Shuk ranged out myriad surprises with souvenirs, exotic apparel, food delicacies, Middle Eastern antiques and a kaleidoscope of everything imaginable. I found myself haggling with the local craftsman over Dead Sea cosmetics and a beautifully carved hookah.
Sampling an Exotic Array of Delicious Culinary Delights
Though the people of those days ate simple yet tasty, nourishing food, Nazareth ranges out an exotic and delicious spread. The cuisine and the culture of this old city inspired my taste buds to go on a tasteful spree at hummus eateries where you can enjoy fatayer, shawarma, baklava, knafeh, and tahini and halva. Tasting this excellent food is a privilege for a foodie and gourmet chefs with the hummus being light and creamy along with the incredible Lebanese sandwich and of course kebab in a grilled pita. I was delighted at the repertoire of culinary delights which is endless in Nazareth with the ultimate street food. I loved the Awash or sugared jelly doughnut, goat’s milk labneh, shanklish cheese and sizzling lamb chops. My culinary journey evolved over the most amazing sesame cookies, ma’amoul, darkish anise cookies, Barack, sabanekh or pastry triangles with wild spinach filling and steaming, myriad delicious food.
Journeying Through Ancient Mists
As I made my through this unique Middle Eastern atmosphere the spirit of adventure had already captured and rejuvenated my soul to discover and delight in an exceptional tour of Nazareth. I walked down the narrow streets and admired the picturesque homes of the hospitable people of Nazareth. Making my way to the Church of the Annunciation decorated with beautiful paintings, I discovered a history of Byzantine and Crusader periods in its sacred history. Memorable in its rendition, the Church of Saint Joseph is structured where Joseph, Mary’s husband had his carpentry shop while the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is near Mary’s Well. Though I was reluctant to leave this historical site, I wandered through the incredible Maronite Church, the Salesian Church and St. Gabriel’s Church to revel in the mists of time.
The interesting museum housed in the White Mosque reveals the history and the beliefs of Nazareth. Magnetic and mesmerizing, The City of Nazareth threw open its ancient secrets and I was amazed at the underground passages of the Greek Orthodox bishop’s house and the compound built by the Russians. The ancient Bath House, the Megiddo National Park, the holy caves of Nazareth, the old Roman town of Seppheris and the Nazareth Village completely occupied and boggled the mind. Of course, a trip to Nazareth is not complete till one visits the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee to relive ancient times and revel in a memorable and historical past.
Travel with Binoy Nazareth Through the Ancient and Awesome City of Nazareth