Travel

The Holy Land Pilgrimage: Day 3

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!

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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.

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painting inside the church depicting the Anunciation
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the “Templon” separates the hall and the altar. The screens are decorated with icons and paintings

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At the ground level flows a spring, believed by the Greek Orthodox to be the site of Anunciation, and called Mary’s Spring.

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colored marble and glazed ceramic decorate the aisle leading to Mary’s Spring
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Mary’s Spring beneath the altar
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.

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Front of the Basilica

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The Basilica’s main door depicting significant events in the life of Jesus
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Relief of St. Luke and St. John
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Relief of St. Matthew and St. Mark
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the uniquely-shaped 55-meters high concrete dome of the Basilica

The Upper Church serves as the local parish church. Mass was going on when we visited.

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Japanese mosaic of Madonna and Child

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The Lower Church is centered around the grotto which is believed to be Virgin Mary’s house.

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the lower level of the Basilica

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the Grotto of the Anunciation

An arcade outside the Basilica contains mosaics from different countries. Below are some of the works on exhibit, including one from my country, Philippines.

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A house which is said to have been from the time of Christ has been discovered on a property next to the Basilica.

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remains of the archaeological excavations

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And yes, Christmas is definitely in the air in Nazareth!

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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.

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St. Joseph Church altar
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stained glass depicting the death of St. Joseph
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stained glass illustrating the marriage of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary
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a painting of the Holy Family in the carpenter’s workshop
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a statue of St. Joseph and Jesus inside the church

The cave under the church were used in the Roman times as storage place of food and water.

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plan of grotto under the church
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baptismal basin in the church grotto
Haifa

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.

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The Christmas spirit in Haifa

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.

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the Baha’i terraces leading to the Shrine of Bab
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the Baha’i gardens, taken from our tourist bus
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the Mediterranean coast
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.

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the Nativity Scene décor inside the church
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plaque inside the church

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Stella Maris church dome

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the monastery’s altar
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chapel inside the monastery
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a memorial stone dedicated to the brave soldiers who died on the Chateau-Renaud ship during the French naval assault on Acre
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Stella Maris monument
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view from across the Stella Maris Monastery
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view of Mediterranean Sea on the way to Caesarea
Caesarea Aqueduct

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.

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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.

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the Filipino mafia pilgrims
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lunch menu
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lunch menu
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.

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a section of the restored amphitheater in Caesarea

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Caesarea and the Mediterranean Sea
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mosaic in the Roman gymnasium in Caesarea

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a portion of the Crusader walls and moat

At the end of our Old Caesarea walking tour were fruit vendors. Here I tasted the juiciest, sweetest strawberries ever!

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the best strawberries. ever.
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my love for pomegranate paled by my newfound love of Israeli strawberries
Welcome to Bethlehem

From Caesarea, we moved to Bethlehem which will be our home until we finish the pilgrimage.

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our hotel lobby in festive Christmas décor

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.

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Day 4 will be another long day. We will be visiting Jerusalem. Stay tuned!

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