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The Nazareth where Jesus grew up was an insignificant village nestled 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 will 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.
The modern town of Beit She'an has little to offer visitors, but the past beckons. Unlike some archaeological sites that appear to be just piles...