St. Joseph's Church

Useful Information

Location: Nazareth
(32.703056, 35.298333)
Open: All year daily 7-18.
Fee: free, donations welcome.
Classification: Subterraneacave churches
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: St. Joseph's Church, Annunciation Monastery, P.O.B. 23, 16100 Nazareth, Tel: +972-46-560001, Fax: +972-46-466750. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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2nd to 1st century BC caves constructed for various purposes.
5th or 6th century Byzantine Church built.
12th century Crusader Church was built in a style common in France at the same time.
13th century destroyed during the Arabic occupation and in ruins for hundreds of years.
1754 purchased by the Franciscans who built a chapel for St. Joseph.
1908 archaeological excavations by Father Prof. Veo, remains of the Byzantine Church excavated.
1914 Franciscan church built.


The St. Joseph church was built on top of the cave carpentry workshop of Joseph, the father of Jesus. At least according to Christian tradition. The Franciscan church was established in 1914 over the ruins of more ancient churches. The "crypt" contains an ancient water pit, mosaics, caves and barns from the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. The cave is first mentioned in the work of a 17th-century Italian writer and Orientalist, Franciscus Quaresmius. He described it as “the house and workshop of Joseph”.

The cave is reached down a stairway in the church. The crypt below has a grille in the floor through which caverns can be seen. Down seven steps a pre-Constantinian Christian baptistry with a black-and-white mosaic floor and a size 2 m x 2 m. A flight of rough steps leads down to a narrow passage which turns 180° and then opens into a two meters high chamber.