According to Eastern Orthodox belief, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is positioned where Virgin Mary was drawing water at the Annunciation time. Let’s begin exploring!
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Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation has three names. Besides the name in the title, it is also called the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Gabriel and Mary’s Well Church.
It is called Saint Gabriel Church since Gabriel was the angel who told Mary that she was carrying the son of God. And once you enter the church, you can understand the third name. In the church, you can see streaming water. This water runs to the nearby site, Mary’s Well (it is located about 140 meters away). Therefore it also called Mary’s Well Church.
Note: from this point on, I will use the three names interchangeably.
Map of the area:
Since it is located close to the Church of the Annunciation, you can use the same directions and parking suggestions that I mentioned in that guide.
According to Christian Information Center the opening hours are:
Monday – Saturday 7:00 – 18:00
Sunday 7:00 – 13:00
But several websites mention that the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is closed on Sundays. Thus, if you are going to visit on Sunday, I would suggest verifying the opening hours.
The dress code of this place is similar to all other religious places. I call it “knees and shoulders.” That means the clothes must reach out to the knees (preferably below them) and cover the shoulders.
Saint Gabriel Church
My latest visit to this church was a little before Christmas. Hence you can see a Christmas tree.
The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, also known as the Church of St. Gabriel or St. Gabriel’s Greek Orthodox Church, is an Eastern Orthodox church in Nazareth, Israel. Likely first established in Byzantine-era Palaestina Prima, it was rebuilt during the time of the Crusades, and again in the 18th century under the rule of Zahir al-Umar, the Arab governor of the Galilee.
Known colloquially among the Greek Orthodox worshippers of Galilee whom it serves as Kniset el-Rûm, or Church of the Eastern Romans in Levantine Arabic, the church is located over an underground spring, which according to Eastern Orthodox belief is where the Virgin Mary was drawing water at the time of the Annunciation. Water from the spring still runs inside the apse of the church and also fed the adjacent site of Mary’s Well, located 140 m away.
Inside The Church
As you enter inside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, you will see a beautiful space. Here it is:
There is a gallery on the side of this room. So I took the stairs to the second floor, and this is how it looks from there.
People in the photos above are standing in line and waiting for their turn to see the spring. The spring itself is not in this hall but inside a nearby room that can be reached by several stairs.
Actually the nearby room is another structure. Here is the full explanation:
The church is located approximately 650 meters from the Basilica of the Annunciation and 130 meters from Mary’s Well, which sits alongside the road leading to Saffuriyya. The underground chapel from the medieval era containing the spring is accessed from within the present church by descending seven steps. Measuring 10 meters long, 3.3 meters wide, and 3.5 meters high, at the end of this low vaulted cavern, presumably built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, ancient Armenian tilework decorates the walls leading to a small recess. There, below an altar with a semi-circular apse, a shaft leads down to the spring, and one can lower a metal cup to draw water. On the wall to the east, there is a doorway, whose entryway is blocked, and it thought that this is the stairway to which Quaresmi referred in his writings.
Modern decorative murals cover the walls and the ceilings of the overground structure built in the 18th century. The iconostasis hides the altar from view, in keeping with Eastern Orthodox tradition. The tomb of the founder of the Church can be seen along the north wall.
We saw the spring, but since there was a long line, I decided not to hold it by taking photos. So here are several additional photos from the newer part of the church.
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation AKA Saint Gabriel Church is among the most popular churches in Nazareth. And if you are visiting the city, then I recommend making a stop there and the nearby Mary’s Well.
Note: if you are looking for additional nearby attractions, either browse the map at the top of this post or see Nazareth.
Have you ever been to the Saint Gabriel Church? Tell us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.