Ironically, although Christians claim Nazareth to be the childhood home town of Jesus, the city is in fact, the largest Arab city in Israel, half of which are Moslems. Furthermore, many Nazareth tour guides are actually Christian Americans who chose to live and work there. Located 1300 ft above sea level, Nazareth offers its inhabitants a beautiful view of the Bet Netofa Valley, Mt Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa. Modern Nazareth however is now said by many Westerners to resemble San Francisco with its steep, narrow and winding streets. Its height and elevation also provides for a climate that is ideal for planting and other agricultural practices. An agricultural city, Nazareth is famous for the traditional Arabic markets that draw Israelis from all over the country seeking traditional Arabic produce. For many Israeli newcomers who grew up visiting big shopping malls in the cities, coming to the Nazareth market alone is an experience in itself.
Ancient Nazareth has a rich history that involves wholesale Christian massacre and wars, but the past world of Mary, Joseph and young Jesus is now steeped with important Christian sites that include the Church of the Annunciation – one of the more important Catholic churches in the country. Unlike Bethlehem, however, not many vendors sell religious icons and souvenirs in Nazareth. Samples of communion cups and various religious potteries are given away for free to remind the visitor of his tour.
Experienced tourists advice visitors to keep souvenirs within easy reach when exiting the country because, although there is no tax charge for the gifts one receives in Israel, one is obliged to declare them at the airport. Stuffing gift items inside the luggage bags only make it difficult to remove them when one is asked to show it.