The Basilica of the Annunciation is the largest of all the churches in the modern town of Nazareth. It celebrates the announcement brought to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she was to become the mother of the Messiah. Held by tradition to be part of the house of the family of Mary and the spot where she received the announcement, the first building erected over the sacred Grotto of the Annunciation was a church-synagogue used by the early Jewish-Christians. Later a Byzantine basilica was erected over the shrine, and this remained in use until the 12th Century.
Extensive excavations carried out in the 1950-60’s revealed remains of the Byzantine church built in about 427, and a stone column on which the words “Ave Maria” were carved in antiquity, probably by a visiting pilgrim.
Destroyed and rebuilt many times, Nazareth was the Crusader capital of the Galilee in the 12-13th centuries. Tancred, the first Prince of the Galilee, rebuilt much of the town that he found in ruins.
In 1263, the Mameluk leader Sultan Baybars, destroyed the great cathedral erected here by the Europeans. All that remains of that magnificent structure are several carved capitals depicting events of the life of Christ and the Crusader victory over the Muslims.
A. Consecrated in 1969, the Basilica is famous for its stained glass windows and artwork donated by Christian communities from all over the world.
B. The carved columns made for the Crusader cathedral are among the country’s finest examples of Romanesque art.
Legend tells that when the Crusaders lost Nazareth to the Muslims in the 13th century, angels came down from heaven, picked up the church and transported it to the Italian village of Loretto near Ancona. Also known as “Nazareth de Italia” the local church there is called “Santa Casa”- the Holy House.
The beautifully carved capitals from Nazareth’s great Crusader cathedral can be seen in the Museum of the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Please note that the museum closes every day between 12:00-14:00.
Follow News from Jerusalem