The Basilica of Annunciation also called the Church of the Annunciation in the city of Nazareth Israel is the largest basilica in the Middle East. It was designed by Architect Giovanni Muzio and was consecrated in March 1969 and maintained by the Franciscan Order.
Basilica of Annunciation in the City of Nazareth Israel
The archaeological findings in the area confirm the tradition that here was the home of Mary and the Site of the Annunciation where Gabriel announced her that she will give birth to Jesus; and of different Byzantine Churches and others of the Crusaders eras. You may see some of the findings in the Franciscan Museum within the Church.
Mary's Well near the Basilica of Annunciation
This is a brief timeline of the different churches build in the same site:
Mosaic of the Virgin Mary presented to the Basilica by Japan
The Church of Annunciation is made of two levels and is crowned by a spectacular cupola of 55 meters that can be seen from far. Natural light illuminates the interior. It is adorned by beautiful mosaics of ceramic donated by Catholic Communities from around the world. The Altar features imposing Italian mosaics.
The upper church serves as the local Roman Catholic Parish Church serving the Catholic population of Nazareth Israel. A courtyard outside connects to the Church of St Joseph’s Carpentry.
It has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries and is today a must stop for Christian Pilgrims on Holy Land Tours
The modern Basilica of the Annunciation was built with shape of the Madonna lily, symbol of the Virgin Mary. The whole upper part is adorned by huge mosaics of the Virgin Mary donated by communities from around the world.
No matter how many times I have been there accompanying groups, I keep being amazed by the beauty of these mosaics. They depict the Virgin as seen by the eyes of the people of the country of origin of the mosaic. I can tell you that the Japanese one covered with a manta of real pearls is awe inspiring.
The lower part of the church centers on the Grotto or cave of the Annunciation and many archaeological findings of the Crusaders and Byzantine Churches that preceded this one.
Map of the Galilee showing the location of Nazareth
How to get there
You will probably be taken by one of the magnificent Israeli Tour guides but if you are one of the few braves driving by yourself, getting to Nazareth is very easy since it is located in the middle of the Lower Galilee and coming from the north, the Sea of Galilee or from Haifa or Tel Aviv, all the signs will take you to Nazareth. Once there the Church of Annunciation is the number one site.
There are a few great Nazareth Hotels, so you may stay in the area for a few days.
images courtesy of wikimedia commons