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Nazareth’s Old City Souq

No visit to Nazareth is complete without a visit to the Old City Souq (market). Six days a week (Sunday the market becomes still and at rest) the winding streets just below the Fauzi Azar Inn and surrounding the White Mosque are crowded with sellers and buyers, locals and visitors. A visit may reward you with a 6 shekel pita pizza (dripping with tomato sauce, cheese, olives and a sprinkle of za’atar) or a bag of apples, peppers, or avocados from the roadside vendors.

If you stay for long in the Old City, you may begin to talk about “my” baker, produce vender, or shop owner. Sellers offer the visitor and the local resident a quaint, bustling community where one can find slippers, shampoo, onions, potatoes, cabbage, crackers, sweets, and fresh bread. If you wander early enough, you are likely to enjoy the early morning bustle of farm grown produce. You might step around village women selling all kinds of greens, farm fresh eggs, even farm cheeses in plastic tubs. Zigzagging past mats of greens on the cobblestones, the early morning shopper will also find the secret to local school childrens’ active brains: the shop selling pita pizzas to students on their way to school.

Traveling past the White Mosque the curious visitor will find winding streets with a variety of scarves, shoes, olives, books, umbrellas, suitcases, kitchenware and more. No need for a Mega shopping center here. Each owner proudly sets his wares out early each morning and by three in the afternoon is closing up and going home.

If you wander even farther afield, a cobbled street will bring you to the paved road that slips between a cemetery and a small door off the street. The door looks very unimposing. Many have walked by without curiosity, but one glance into the little door and you will be hooked. El Babour, an old mill, continues to offer baskets of teas, herbs, nuts, spices, dried fruit, lentils and grains of many kinds. You will want to find and enter the little door if only to soak in the delicious smells and cavernous, old world atmosphere available so close to the Old City Souq!

As you wind around the cobbled streets, you will find local restaurants also opening their cozy interiors and fabulous food for the hungry. During the bustle of the daily market, the curious may find walnut and cheese pancakes for sale right in the heart of vegetable stands, but after the vendors have locked away their produce and the baker has gone home for the evening, you can still find unique restaurants in several converted Arab mansions around the Old City. Old City food and charm welcome the visitor back again and again.

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