Nazareth has a very rich history. It goes back thousands of years, and retains hundreds of rulers. This city is mentioned in historiography of all the major Abrahamic religions. The history of the city goes back to prehistoric times, as proved by the archaeological diggings carried out in the 1950s. These diggings discovered settlement of primitive people located in a cave on the slopes of Gore Mountain near the modern Nazareth. According to scientists, people have lived in these localities since 100,000 years ago.
But today known Nazareth was founded between 600 and 900 years BC. It was inhabited by Jews, and the very name "Nazareth" is derived from the Hebrew word "Netzer", which means "twig" or "branch". Jesus also was called as Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua mi-Nazrat, or Yeshua a-nazri in Hebrew) – that is why Christianity in Hebrew is pronounced like "nazrut".
2000 years ago here took place the events which made the Nazareth an illustrious city, and first and foremost of them was the Annunciation, which has turned the city into one of the most sacred places for the Christianity.
According to the Bible, the Archangel Gabriel appeared in Nazareth to the Virgin Mary with the annunciation that she would bear the son of God. Though Jesus himself was not born in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph returned to the city shortly after his birth. He grew up, studied and lived most of his life in this city. It is Nazareth mould Jesus Christ as a future prophet and Messiah (which Christians believe he was), and from here he started to spread his teachings.
Today Nazareth is the most important pilgrimage place for all who want to visit the city of the Holy Family.
Many of the most important archaeological finds in Nazareth belong to the Byzantine era started from the 4th century AD. During this period the first church was built on the site of the house where, as believed, Joseph and Mary used to live. Now here one can find the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Since the 7th century AD - the first Arab conquest, Nazareth is going through a periods of decline and revival. Islamic and Christian rulers continuously fought for power in the region, and all these fights were reflected on Nazareth. During the Crusaders period in the 11th century, because of the generous donations, in Nazareth at the ancient ruins the Church of the Annunciation was restored, controlled by Catholics.
Orthodox Christians have built a rival church, known today as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation and located not far from the Nazareth’ main water source. According to Orthodox tradition, this place is where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary.
During this period a pilgrimage to Nazareth terminates.
During the Mamluk Empire in the 13th century, Nazareth was going through a period of decline, Christians were expelled, and the temples were destroyed. The situation was improved only in the 16th century, when Nazareth fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Christians were allowed to return for settling and building temples, churches and monasteries.
In the 19th century, Nazareth was expanding, the industrial plants were established. Because of the religious communities influence Christian immigration became to grow. During this period 12 churches, several monasteries, seven new schools, two hospitals and three orphanages were built. A lot of hotels and inns, such as Muscovy also were constructed.
In the late 19th century the population of Nazareth mounted to 8,000 people, making it the largest city in the Galilee.
Despite the fact that Nazareth kept aside from the main centers of economic activity during the British mandate (since 1917), the city continued to grow. In 1930 it became the Palestine north administrative center, and in 1947 on the eve of the State of Israel creating its population increased to 17,000.