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Nazareth and Zippori with winery lunch

Explore the city of Nazareth and the surrounding area on a full-day tour with a local guide who can take you to the city’s biblical sites as well as elaborate on the complex political and religious demographics of the area. Nazareth is Israel’s largest Arab town, and the tour presents a good opportunity to see a different side of the country, learn about its varied communities, and try traditional Arab food. This tour includes a visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Zippori, as well as lunch at a local winery.

Your driver-guide will pick you up at your hotel at the start of the day and take you out of the city toward Nazareth.

According to the New Testament, Nazareth was Jesus’ childhood home and the city has many biblical connections. Winding your way through the streets of the Old Town you’ll see Ottoman-era buildings, traditional markets, workshops, cafés and everyday life in the city, as you make your way to the Basilica of the Annunciation, the city’s most renowned attraction.

Your guide will explain why it’s believed to be the location of Mary’s childhood home and the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Today, a church dating from the 1960s marks the site and protects the Grotto of the Annunciation — the location of Mary’s house — and the remnants of the Byzantine and Crusader churches that once surrounded it. Your guide will also take you to see a gallery of artwork depicting Mary and the baby Jesus sent by nations from around the world.

From Nazareth you will continue on to the archaeological site of Zippori, which dates from the 2nd century BCE. In 63 BCE it was conquered by the Romans and became the capital of the Galilee region throughout the reign of Herod. In Jewish terms, Zippori is hugely important as the place where, around 200 AD, the Mishnah was redacted by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi and modern Judaism was therefore given shape.

In Christian heritage the site has significance as the hometown of Mary and her parents. Archaeological excavations are ongoing and have uncovered ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Crusader eras. There are some detailed mosaics housed in a Roman villa on the site, including the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’, as well as an extensive cistern system which stored water from a Nazarene spring 13 km (8 miles) away.

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Audley Travel Country Specialist Kerry-Ann

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