Nazareth

The Nazareth where Jesus grew up was an insignificant village in a hollow in the Galilean hills, but today's city of 65,000 pulses with energy. Apart from the occasional donkey plying traffic-clogged Paulus VI Street, there's little that evokes the Bible in contemporary Nazareth, unless you know where to look—and indeed, droves of Christian pilgrims come to pray at the awe-inspiring Basilica of the Annunciation or seek quiet contemplation at one of Nazareth's many smaller churches.

For nonbelievers, Nazareth is a fascinating day or half-day stop; the Christian devout want to spend a full day, if not two. If your goal is to experience Nazareth as Jesus did, plan a tour at Nazareth Village. The calmest days to visit are Wednesday, when many businesses close for a midweek sabbatical, and Sunday, the day of rest for the Christians who make up a third of the town. If you're looking for local color (and traffic jams), come on Saturday, when Arab villagers come to the big city to sell produce and buy goods.

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