The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is the largest and most elaborate church in the Middle East. Completed in the 1960′s it rests on earlier Byzantine and Crusader remains and has a lower and an upper basilica.

Above the front façade which depicts Mary, the angel Gabriel and the four Gospels, is a statue representing Christ the Redeemer. The bronze doors on the left and the right have images from the Old Testament while the center doors depict episodes from the life of Jesus.

The lower basilica is stark but behind the wrought iron railing are earliest remains, thought to be of the Holy family dwelling. Mosaic panels from the Byzantine church have been incorporated into the modern architecture as have the earlier Crusader columns.

By contrast, the high cupola and high windows allow light to flood the upper basilica which is decorated with numerous ethnic and colorful portrayals of Mary and the infant Jesus, sent by Catholic communities throughout the world. Those not exhibited in the church itself adorn the colonnades in the courtyard.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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