Nazareth has come a long way since its days as a quiet Jewish village in Roman-ruled Galilee, so if you’re expecting bucolic rusticity, be prepared for a surprise. These days, Israel’s largest Arab city is a bustling mini-metropolis, with shop-lined thoroughfares, traffic jams and young men with a penchant for showing off at the wheel. The Old City, its stone-paved alleys lined with crumbling Ottoman-era mansions, is working to reinvent itself as a sophisticated culinary and cultural destination.
According to the New Testament, it was in Nazareth (Al Naasira in Arabic, Natzrat or Natzeret in Hebrew) that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her that she would conceive and give birth to the Son of God, an event known as the Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38).
Everything in Nazareth is open for business on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday night and Saturday). On Sunday, however, stores and most restaurants are closed.