Nazareth – the Old City

After some more sightseeing, you’ll be ready for dinner.

The shuk in the old city of Nazareth. (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The shuk in the old city of Nazareth.
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
On Paul VI Street, the main drag of the Old City of Nazareth, you will find Mary’s Well, which is known to Christians as the spot where the angel Gabriel first told Mary, the mother of Jesus, that she would have a son: the Annunciation.
Right next to it is the beautiful Greek Orthodox Basilica of the Annunciation, which was last rebuilt in 1767, after being destroyed and rebuilt by multiple conquerors.
Walking through the alleys of the Old City, you will uncover its hidden jewels. In alley 6091 you will reach a set of large doors that open onto stairs that ascend to the entrance of what is reputed to be the city’s most ancient site – caves said to have been dug by Jews over 3,000 years ago to hide from their enemies. Inside, you can see samples of the tools that were used during those years.
Continue along the way to visit the White Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Nazareth and was completed in 1808. It is a typical Ottoman structure, similar in architecture to the other Ottoman buildings around the old town.
Close to the White Mosque, in a small alley, Road 6126, is the Mensa Christi (Table of Jesus) Church.
Complement your historical tour with a visit to some of the eateries located throughout the Old City. Stop at the Elbabour spice shop, where you can find everything that belongs to the world of herbs. As soon as you enter its doors, your nose will breathe in wonderful scents from near and far. For a taste of sweet pastry, Abu Ashraf’s Dewan al-Saraya is the place. It is situated in an old house full of hundreds of artifacts and art that cover the walls. While you enjoy your sweet pastry, you’ll gaze at the many rare pieces displayed.
Have a drink at Abu Salem café, which prepares healthy tea that combines cinnamon sticks and ground pecans or walnuts.
After some more sightseeing, you’ll be ready for dinner. Tishreen restaurant offers an impressive experience, with lots of Nazareth tastes that combine Eastern and Western culinary traditions to create wonderful dishes. The restaurant is located near Mary’s Well in a 150-year-old Ottoman-style building.
To spend a night or two in the old town, you can choose from among a number of guest houses, such as the Mensa Christi Guest House or the Al Hakim Guest House.
A good choice would be Michel House, which is housed in what used to be the mayor’s home. It has eight beautiful and comfortable rooms and is just a few steps from all of the sites mentioned above. Michel himself takes pride in his hospitality. He shares with his guests his personal history and makes suggestions of places to visit.
Before completing your picturesque journey of Nazareth, it’s hard to miss the Basilica of the Annunciation. The complex includes two churches and a cave. Its massive, two-story basilica is an easily sighted landmark in and around Nazareth.