Nazareth night life – Bars, Turkish bath and restaurants
By: Ronit Svirsky , Photour
Nazareth is one of the only cities in Israel that manages to create a communal and national micro-cosmos and attract to it local tourism and pilgrims. It is gradually developing as an entertainment and culinary center of the Lower Galilee area and its night life are more vibrant then ever. Recently up-to-date pubs have been opened, Turkish bath, restaurants that offer international kitchens, a store that presents works by local artists and homey hotels. To all of these we also add historical and archeological sites that are slowly revealed to the public.
Hamam Zaman is the new Turkish bath that was opened near the Orthodox Greek Church. The strong colors and the arched openings welcome those who come there. While being in the waiting room, you can have a cup of coffee or sweet tea and hear explanations about the treatment. The bath itself is hidden well into the ground floor. The initiator of the place is Jalal Habiballah from Ein Mahil village near Nazareth. After graduating physiotherapy and Italian studies in Italy he worked in Torino. While being on vacation in Spain he visited a Turkish bath designed in Moroccan style and as he was enveloped with hot water steams he decided to establish his own Turkish bath at the place of his birth. He took advanced studies in several Turkish Baths in Torino and only then established Hamam Zaman in Nazareth, combining his physiotherapy knowledge in the treating process.
Scrubbing, cleansing and massage
A dim area concealed with grey marble waiting for patients. From the moment you start the treatment you go from one step to the other and each peel off the dead cells from the outside and the stresses from the inside. You stay in a dry Sauna for 10 minutes; afterwards you enter the bath hall and lie of a special marble plate that reaches a temperature of 50 degrees, for fifteen minutes. Like in the pictures from Pompeii's final days, you lie on the hot stone and nibble dates, sweet fruits and drink a lot of tea. When the body reaches the boiling point you move to a cool marble bench and spray cold water over your body. This is the point when your body is scraped with luffa and a lot of soap.
Jalal uses products based on salt and mud from the Dead Sea. You enter a hot Jacuzzi with strong massage currents and then go to get a massage: you can choose between classic Swedish massage, erotic oils massage, and medical massage for those who suffer from cellulitis or diabetes or even have four hands massage. After the treatment, the body is being smeared with creams rich with minerals and you go into a wet sauna. You end the treatment with another scrub of salts and minerals. The prices are in accordance with the type of massage and move between 200-250 NIS.
It is open Monday – Saturday. Arrange an appointment in advance Tel. 052-6983236
Shababik – Local art
Shababick is the first art project of the ancient city and it symbolizes a return to its vibrant commerce life of the 20th century. Shababik is located inside an ancient house, over 100 years old, and present artworks created by local and Israeli artists. The project was formed by Iman Zoabi, who also owns the guesthouse Al-Mutran. In Shababick there are also art collections and artworks, authentic lace integrated with useful products, ceramics, Roman glass and silver jewelry, renewed antiquities that are made into modern aesthetics and design products.
Sudfeh – Bar, Restaurant and Jazz nights
Sudfeh restaurant is a place with a special atmosphere. The ancient structure which was once the mansion of a wealthy merchant is covered in stone from top to bottom. It has arched openings and ceilings, large spaces and an open courtyard with a water hole in its center. The structure was established in the 19th century and stood uninhabited for a long while until it became the Sudfeh (Chance in Arabic) by Mary Abu Jaber, the owner of a Museology degree from Tel Aviv University. She gathered interior decorators from Nazareth, who graduated from Bezalel, and they renovated, preserved and reconstructed the building, fitted it with up-to-date furniture, designed a bar overflowing with alcohol and created a space for changing exhibits. They also allotted a special room for private meals on the upper floor with room for 12 diners.
Sudfeh's chef gets his inspiration from the Galilee raw materials and uses them to create an international, but mainly French, cuisine. Among the starters you can find: Goose breast with berry sauce, Sinta rolls with balady vegetables in mustered sauce, Jarjir salad with chorizos, tabbouleh calamari, halves of eggplant with changing seasoning, green leaves salad with apples and dried figs. Main course: Lemon or mushrooms Scallopini, steaks, lamb ribs with various seasoning, cordon bleu with Za'atar filling and cheese with mustard sauce. On Thursday nights there is a Jazz group playing live music. The place is open Monday – Saturday from 12:00 till the last diner. Tel. 04-65666111
El Mejana – Arab cuisine
Another restaurant which has become a pastime center in Nazareth is El Mejana that focuses on the original Arab cuisine and Mediterranean seafood. The chef Souhel Farran who was exposed to cuisines from all around the world in his career, combines the Arab cuisine with the international one. When he opened El Mejana (the leaf that is a part of the grinding), he saw it as following the footsteps of his grandfather Alberto who was the head chef of Casa Nova hotel in Nazareth, 60 years ago. His family members joined him in making the restaurant operational and they help with the serve and the hospitality. The menu includes various salads: hot labaneh, kubbeh, Freekeh and chicken, Maqluba, stuffed vegetables, Muhammar, Mansaf, Saniya, Hummus with meat, lamb ribs with wine and Kubbeh Nayyeh (when ordering in advance). Tel. 04-6021067
St. Margaret's Inn
A lovely lodging location, with fixed price to all, is the St. Margaret's Inn, which was established in 1874 by the Missioner Hobbs. Her activity focused on humanitarian aid to the people of Nazareth and it operated with the help of 400 of the Mission's graduates. During the British Mandate the structure had been turned into an Elementary school and later operated as an institute for Mentally Handicapped Children. Later on, the historical structure turned into an Inn for pilgrims. The stone structure creates a tranquil atmosphere, courtyard with vegetation and a balcony overlooking Old Nazareth across the towering monasteries and mosques. The price for one night with breakfast is 350 NIS. Tel. 04-6573507
The Rosary Sisters' Convent
Another lodging location with a homely, pleasant atmosphere is the Rosary Sisters' Guesthouse. The structure has been renovated lately, A/C's has been installed in all the rooms and the showers and toilets have been renovated. The rooms are divided between the central structure with double and family rooms and another private wing that has five rooms and is suitable for several couples or a large family, with a private lobby and television. A garden full of greenery, trees and shade, with a view of Nazareth's ancient buildings is suitable for relaxed lounging and reading books. The price for a couple to one night including breakfast is 350 NIS. Tel. 04-6554435