National Geographic : 1965 Dec
and artisans became in time a place of Chris tian shrines. Because the shrines were there, Crusaders came to possess them. Because the Crusaders were there, Saracens attacked and sacked the town. Once again Nazareth was poor and humble, but this time Moslem. It re mained so until the later Turkish reign, when Christians were allowed to establish their sanctuaries. Today their buildings stand austerely in the Oriental quarter, where cleri cal clothing contrasts with Arab robes. THE HIGHWAY cuts through the south ern edge of Nazareth, and here are soda stands, bus stops, and machine shops. The old center crowds the northern slope around its bazaar. I parked, squeezed through a clot of little boys bent on baksheesh, and headed up the hill. A large, amiable young Arab detached himself from a group support ing a nearby wall and seemed to surround me, so deft was his encircling footwork. "Hello, my dear mister. I am official guide, know all holy places, explain everything. For you only ten pounds [$3.33]. We go, yes?" He settled for five without letting his smile slip. We went into the bazaar where dark vaulted stalls, opening onto an alley, offered glassware, brassware, seeds, and spices; ny lons, brassieres, tonic, and toothpaste. "Here you find anything," my mentor an nounced proudly, filching a fig. And, as a mischievous urchin's stone caught me be tween the shoulders, "No one bother you while you with me." The whine of a band saw led me to a domed chamber where a young man with a thought ful face was passing a plank through the machine (page 834). "A carpenter of Naza reth ... " I said it aloud, to no one. The guide punctured my dream. "We got lots of carpenters. Make things for tourists. You like little wooden camel? Little donkey?" We went then to the sacred spots, each es tablished by tradition, each guarded by resi dent clerics whose statements as to the authen ticity of their own sites and the dubiousness of others sometimes seemed less than Chris tian. Several shrines are venerated for direct connection with the Holy Family: Mary's kitchen, Joseph's workshop, Jesus' synagogue, and two sites of the Annunciation. All are interesting, but only one is unchallengeable: Mary's Well is unquestionably Mary's Well. It was the only well in Nazareth. At sundown I drove to a hilltop, high above the town. In the last light I walked out along the ridge to see the whole of the place. A man 836 City of shrines, Nazareth crowds 200-odd churches and chapels into the hollow where once stood a simple hamlet. Over such a field of wild flowers, summoned from the scant soil by late winter rains, Jesus must have roamed, becoming fa miliar with the birds, flowers, and trees that in later years enriched His sayings and parables-"Consider the lilies, how they grow...." As Christ's early home, Nazareth drew the Crusad ers, later driven out by Mos lems. Here the homes of Arabs, many of them now Christian, climb the hillside amid the austere facades of convents, schools, and or phanages of many sects. Contrasting costumes of country and clergy give character to the crowds in Nazareth's winding ways.