By next year, Nazareth tourists will be able to walk where Jesus might have walked.
Nazareth Village will be a "living museum" of a working first-century farm and village, located on a Galilean hillside where archaeologists say Jesus and his family probably lived. Visitors will participate in "parable walks," led by storytellers in first-century costumes.
Linda Fuller, cofounder of Habitat for Humanity International, is president of the Miracle of Nazareth International Foundation, the Mishawaka, Indiana-based nonprofit that is raising the $60 million needed for the project. Trustees include former President Jimmy Carter, retired professional football player Reggie White, former un Ambassador Andrew Young, and University of Notre Dame President Emeritus Theodore M. Hesburgh.
Archaeologists uncovered ruins of a first-century farm on the site, including terraces, a winepress, a stone quarry, and three watchtowers. Volunteers from U.S. churches are helping to clear the land and replant vineyards and olive trees.
Dale H. Schumm, executive director of the foundation, is prepared for critics who say Nazareth Village is just a biblical theme park. "It has some of those characteristics, but it will be a living history of eternal value and interest," Schumm says.
Nazareth Village is expected to increase tourism to what is now a congested city of 60,000. Crews are repairing streets and constructing new hotels, an estimated $100 million project.1