The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Since the Greek Orthodox tradition holds that the Annunciation occurred while Mary was drawing water from a local underground spring in Nazareth, it was only natural that the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation was erected above the subterranean chamber of St. Mary’s Spring, which was the main source of water two thousand years ago. During the rule of Dahir al-Umar (1730–1775) over the Galilee, the local Greek Orthodox community obtained a firman granting them control over the church, which had been occupied previously by the Franciscans and the Greek Catholic. This gives you a picture of the politics among Christian churches. The church is also called Church of St. Gabriel or St. Gabriel’s Greek Orthodox Church. The underground chapel from the medieval era containing the spring is accessed from within the present church by descending seven steps.
Water from the spring still runs inside the apse of the church and also feeds the adjacent tourist site of “Mary’s Well”, located 140 m away. Below an altar in the a semi-circular apse, a shaft leads down to the spring, and one can lower a metal cup to draw water.
The church is located approximately 650 meters from the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation and 130 meters (430 ft) from Mary’s Well.
Mary’s Well is located in the center of the downtown Nazareth. The well gets its water by pipes from a natural spring about 200 m north of the well. Mary’s Well was almost the sole water source of Nazareth in ancient times. According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, this was the place where the angel Gabriel announce to the Virgin Mary that she will have a son.
In the late 1990s, a local Nazareth couple, Elias and Martina Shama, were trying to discover the source of a water leak in their gift shop, Cactus, just in front of Mary’s Well. Digging through the wall, they discovered underground passages that, upon further digging revealed a vast underground complex.
The current structure is a non-functional reconstruction – a symbolic representation of the structure that was once in use.
Russian Orthodox Moskubiya
Mary of Nazareth International Center
Modern multimedia technology portrays the Virgin Mary’s role in salvation history at the Mary of Nazareth International Center, just across the street from the towering Catholic Church of Annunciation.