Nazareth has been around for a long time. Today, it is a city with an Arab population, many of whom are Christians as opposed to being muslims, and a minority Jewish population. It is a bit of a melting pot which has largely lost its rural roots. Today we travelled for about 45 minutes to reach Nazareth and visited the Nazareth Village project.
Now this project is a bit like the Jondaryan Woolshed concept. But in a setting right in the middle of Nazareth; houses, apartments and shops hemming it in. It is a re-creation of a first century Nazareth Village environment. Hillside farm terraces, olive trees, grape arbors, donkeys, goats and a flock of sheep roam the land. There is a fully reconstructed village including homes, shops, a synagogue and a working olive press. In clearing the land for the village project a first century grape press was also revealed having been carved into the rock surface below where the garden terraces would have been and are now reconstructed. The objective of the Project is to introduce us to the lifestyle of villagers at the time of Jesus and the impact this culture had on his teaching. I think it succeeds and is well worth the visit.
Later we visited the Church of the Annunciation which sits on the site (Mary’s house) which has traditionally been associated with the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to tell Mary she was pregnant with Jesus. To what extent this site is it or not seems when you visit the place to be a bit irrelevant compared to the feelings and imagery conjured up by just being there.
We returned mid afternoon to the hotel and to get ready to go up the Golan Heights tomorrow and, amongst other things, overlook the Syrian border.