Touristical Sites in Nazareth
Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 18.10.2006:
Near Mary’s Well, inside a local tourist shop called Cactus, is what appears to be a bathhouse that was possibly used by Jesus. Archeologists agree that the bathhouse dates from the Roman Empire.
The Saraya, in which the Nazareth Museum is located, is one of the most important historical buildings in the city. It was built in the 18th century by Dhaher al-Omar al-Zaidani, the governor of Galilee, under whose reign Nazareth developed from a village into an urban center. Al-Zaidani encouraged the Christian population to settle within its borders. He built his summer residence in Nazareth, the state of security improved greatly, and trade flourished. It was during this period that the Saraya was built.
Al-Zaidani turned one of the rooms of the 2-story building into a prayer chamber for Muslims (it was not until 1812 that the White Mosque was erected next door). Until the 1990s, the Saraya fulfilled its original purpose, serving as Nazareth’s town hall.
The Saraya is now being restored, with its original facade conserved. Museum exhibits will be displayed in the rooms of the original building, from whose windows visitors will have a scenic view of the city, preserving an architectural link with the nearby market and the urban surroundings of the city.
Plans for the museum are quite elaborate. Olive trees, vines, pomegranates, and herbs reminiscent of the Galilean countryside will greet visitors as they leave the commotion of the market behind and enter the courtyard of the Saraya. An old carpentry workshop suggestive of the Christian tradition associated with Nazareth will stand in one of the corners of the reconstructed yard, part of the exhibition that will recreate Nazareth as it was 2,000 years ago. The exhibition will feature state-of-the-art presentation with models and special technical effects, original exhibits, ancient manuscripts, and textual and graphic material.
Source: Palestine A Guide by Mariam Shahin.