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Arabic: 'an-nāsira
Hebrew: nazerat

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Nazareth, Israel.
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Photo: David Rubinger/Corbis

Nazareth, Israel.
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Church of Annunciation. Photo: Chris Yunker.

St. Gabriel's church in Nazareth, Israel.

Nazareth, Israel.
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Photo: Chris Yunker.

City in northern Israel in Lower Galilee with about 66,000 inhabitants (2008 estimate), and the largest Arab city of the country.
Nazareth is a regional market and trade centre for Arabs in northern Israel.
The economy is based on catering for pilgrims and tourists. There is some industry in Nazareth, but many inhabitants have to work outside Nazareth, near Haifa as well as in their Jewish twin city of Upper Nazareth (Israeli law does not give Arabs the same rights to own property and perform trade as Jews).

Nazareth of Christianity
Nazareth is an important city in Christianity, as the Gospels tell that it was the city of the childhood of Jesus. In the Gospel according to John there are even indications that Nazareth is Jesu' birth place.
There are numerous monuments commemorating different episodes in the Gospels, but only one of these have a location that can be unequivocally traced back to the time of the New Testament: the town well called St. Mary's Well.
Most known among the other monuments are the Church of the Annunciation (starting to be built in 1909, finished in 1966, see picture). This houses the Grotto of Annunciation (when archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the news that she would become the mother of Jesus). This church is the largest Church in the Middle East.
Other monuments include Gabriel's Church (which is placed where the Greek Catholics believe that the Annunciation took place), Church of Joseph (the place of his carpentry shop), Mensa Christi Church (where Jesus dined with the apostles after his resurrection), Synagogue Church (where Jesus preached) and Basilica of Jesus the Adolescent.

45Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Chapter 7
41Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 42Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43So there was a division among the people because of him.

70 CE: Nazareth is mentioned for the first time ever, in the Gospel according to Mark (which is generally believed to be the oldest of the 4 gospels in the New Testament).
4th century CE: A church is built here by the Roman emperor Constantine.
1099: Nazareth is captured by the Crusaders, led by Tancred, who made himself Prince of Galilee with Nazareth as his capital.
1187: Saladin captures Nazareth, but lets the Christians stay.
1291: The Crusaders are driven out of Nazareth, and would never return again.
1517: Ottomans conquers Palestine, and drives the Christians out of Nazareth.
1620: Emir Fakhr gets control over Nazareth, and lets the Christians return. Franciscan monks settles, and resumed the Crusader foundation.
1730: The Franciscans built a church at the spot where it was believed that the Annunciation found place.
1947: Nazareth is included in the Arab sector in the partition plan of the United Nations.
1948: Following the First Palestinian War, Nazareth is included in Israel.
1957: A new Nazareth is built, but only for Jews. It is called Nazerat Illit (Upper Nazareth).
2000 October 2: Clashes between the Jews and Arabs of Nazareth, where Jewish mob kills 2 Palestinian civilians.

By Tore Kjeilen