We left Nazareth for Bethlehem early in Day 3. But before that it was another whole day of sightseeing and visiting the holy sites. Another lovely day!
St. Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church
St. Gabriel is the Greek Orthodox’s counterpart to the Catholics’ Anunciation site, where the angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of God.
At the ground level flows a spring, believed by the Greek Orthodox to be the site of Anunciation, and called Mary’s Spring.
Basilica of the Anunciation
The Catholics’ counterpart site of the Anunciation, the cupola stands over a cave which is believed to be Virgin Mary’s house. It is believed to be where the angel Gabriel appeared to Virgin MAry to tell her that she will conceive the Son of God.
The Upper Church serves as the local parish church. Mass was going on when we visited.
The Lower Church is centered around the grotto which is believed to be Virgin Mary’s house.
An arcade outside the Basilica contains mosaics from different countries. Below are some of the works on exhibit, including one from my country, Philippines.
A house which is said to have been from the time of Christ has been discovered on a property next to the Basilica.
And yes, Christmas is definitely in the air in Nazareth!
St. Joseph’s Church
St. Joseph’s Church believed to be built over the carpenter workshop of the Holy Family, is located adjacent to the Basilica of the Anunciation.
The cave under the church were used in the Roman times as storage place of food and water.
We made a quick stop in one of the streets in Haifa, the 3rd largest city of Israel. The city is built on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and has a share of the Mediterranean coastline.
One of the sites commonly visited in Haifa is the Baha’i World Centre which houses two World Heritage sites, the terraces and the Shrine of Bab.
The Baha’i Faith was founded by Baha’u’llah in the 19th century. They believe that the purpose of man is to know and love God through prayer, reflection and service to humanity.
Unfortunately, we arrived too early in Haifa and the Baha’i gardens were not open yet. Waiting would mean sacrificing the other sites in our itinerary for the day, that we forego visiting this place.
Carmelite Monastery of Stella Maris / Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Another nicely-located church offering views of the Mediterranean Sea and fresh sea breeze. The monastery was established by the Carmelite monks serving as a hospital to French soldiers following Napoleon’s retreat in 1799.
In the mid-19th Century, the structure was rebuilt and is now a church and a popular pilgrimage site.
On our way to see the ruins of Caesarea, we had a quick stop at the Caesarea Aqueduct. The aqueduct brought running water to the old city of Caesaria from Shummi which is 10 km away.
Lunch at Sdot Yam Kibbutz
Lunch was buffet at another kibbutz close to Caesarea, Sdot Yam. It offers a relaxing atmosphere with the sprawling grass and the sea in front.
Old City of Caesarea
Caesarea Maritima holds a significant place in history and religion. It is in this area where Peter baptized the first recorded Gentile convert to Christianity, Cornelius. It was also the headquarters of Pontius Pilate. It was also in this place where Apostle Paul was imprisoned for 2 years, the home of Philip the evangelist and where the prophet Agabus foretold how Philip would be handed over to the Romans.
After Jerusalem was destroyed, Caesarea became the center of Christianity in Palestine.
At the end of our Old Caesarea walking tour were fruit vendors. Here I tasted the juiciest, sweetest strawberries ever!
Welcome to Bethlehem
From Caesarea, we moved to Bethlehem which will be our home until we finish the pilgrimage.
Me and my Filipino tourmates decided to take a walk that night to have a glimpse of what the city is. The locals were friendly and of course, Christmas spirit was really in the air.
Day 4 will be another long day. We will be visiting Jerusalem. Stay tuned!