The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth "God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth..."&(Luke 26:1) The Basilica of the Annunciation is one of the largest and most magnificent churches in the Middle East.
Designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, it was consecrated in 1969.&&In the fifth century, a Byzantine church with an expansive nave, a courtyard with a portico, and a small monastery to its south was established on this spot. A flight of stairs led from the church's northern wing to the Grotto of the Annunciation, which was not connected to the church. The date of the destruction of the church is unknown.
The Crusaders began building a majestic basilica similar in plan to its predecessor, but the apparently unfinished building was destroyed by the Muslims. In the seventeenth century, the Franciscans erected a modest church and monastery on the site. The former was renovated, enlarged, and its facade rebuilt in 1877, but was later destroyed to make way for the current church. &&The current church was built on two levels in order to allow for the incorporation of the ancient remains. Its western facade is designed in the shape of a pyramid, at the peak of which stands a statue of Jesus.
On the upper portion of the facade are carved the figures of Mary and the angel Gabriel, with the figures of the four Evangelists below them. The three splendid doors are made of copper with bronze panels depicting various events from Jesus' life. &&The upper church is impressive in size. Its high dome, which was fashioned in the shape of a Madonna lily, is almost the sole source of light in the church. It opens out towards the rock that houses the grotto, and symbolizes the Holy Spirit's descent to Mary.
The floor is decorated with a tessellated marble design in which are integrated the names of popes who expressed admiration for Mary. Lovely mosaics adorn the apses and walls of the nave.