Secreted away in the souk quarter behind the Basilica of the Annunciation, in a maze of streets too narrow for cars, lies the Fauzi Azar Inn – a 200-year-old mansion that has been converted into the most welcoming place to stay in Nazareth. Centred on an arched courtyard, its ten adjoining rooms are decked out with heavy drapes and cushions that soften the heavy sandstone walls and high painted ceilings, making this an oasis of calm beside the daily hubbub of the markets.
But the Inn’s owner, Maoz Inon, has bigger dreams for Fauzi Azar, and has designed it to be more than just a relaxing hideaway. He has developed a “Jesus Trail” – a 65km walking route that traces a path between some of the most significant points in the story of the Gospels, from the fields and forests that surround Nazareth, along the Sea of Galilee to the place where Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount. With the help of volunteers (who get free lodging in Fauzi Azar for four weeks or more in return) he has worked with various other guesthouses to mark out the route with accommodation stops along the way. So rather fittingly, the Jesus Trail ensures that in one of the world’s most divided countries, there is always a welcome at the inn.