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City of Nazareth
Our final stop on this day is the city of Nazareth, so we head east back up into the hills, about 25km from the Sea of Galilee. Again, Hollywood has failed us; instead of a dusty little village in the desert, Nazareth was built on the hills. Today it is a city of 65,000 and has the largest Arab population of any city in Israel. As we journey through the narrow streets and marvel at our driver's ability to avoid accidents, we get deeper into the Arab heart of the city and the atmosphere is decidedly different here. There is grafitti and trash, so different than what we saw earlier in Haifa and along our route. We disembark the bus and don't have to be told to stick together. We are here to see the sites of Jesus' boyhood home, and tradition says the home of Joseph the carpenter was, in effect, a cave dug out of the hillside. Atop that hill today is the largest church in the Middle East, the Church of the Annunciation, on the site of the home of Mary, mother of Jesus, and next to it is the Church of St. Joseph's Carpentry, on the site where Jesus grew up. We go inside the beautiful Church of the Annunciation, and see the entrance to the Grotto.