The Cathedral of Christ’s Nativity (Romanian: Catedrala Mitropolitană Nașterea Domnului) is the main cathedral of the Moldovan Orthodox Church in central Chisinau. It was commissioned by  Prince Vorontsov. The cathedral was built in the 1830s in a Neoclassical design by Abram Melnikov. It was bombed during World War ll, and its bell tower was destroyed by the local Communists in 1962. The new bell tower was constructed in 1997. During the Soviet period, worship was prohibited and the cathedral served as an exhibition center. 



1july17. Chisinau, Moldova.


Nazareth is called the ‘Arab capital of Israel’ because it’s made up mostly of Arab citizens. It’s also thought to be the place where Jesus grew up, so it’s a very popular pilgrimage site. I visited the Church of the Annunciation (largest Catholic church in the Middle East,) St. Joseph’s Church (and it’s believed his carpentry workshop was below – they supposedly lead to where he would have worked,) Christ Church (est. 1871 – I snuck in, as there is a bit of restoration going on,) the convent (they allowed me into just the courtyard to take a picture,) and then as always, lots of beautiful buildings boasting incredible architecture:

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30DEC13. Nazareth, Israel.


This site is believed by Christians to be the place where Jesus was crucified and then resurrected.


Christmas Eve. Old City, Jerusalem.

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Maghdouché’s most famous landmark is the tower of Our Lady of Mantara, which is a Marian shrine built (May 16, 1963), above the cave that is believed to have been the resting place of the Virgin Mary as she waited for Jesus while he preached in Sidon. The tower height is 28 m, Statue height: 8.5 m, width: 3.5 m and the weight is 6 Tons. (wiki)

The name, Maghdouché, originates from the Syriac word, which means “crop collectors.” It is also derived from the Syriac word Kidsh and its derivatives (Kadisho, Kadishat, Makdosho). In Hebrew, it means “holy” or “saintly.” According to Christian belief, when Jesus came to Sidon, the Virgin Mary who accompanied him, waited for him at the top of the hill where Maghdouché is located today. She spent the night in a cave that came to be known as Mantara, or the “Awaiting.” Emperor Constantine the Great responded to St. Hélène’s request and transformed the cave into a sanctuary for the Virgin. He erected a tower in honor of the Virgin. The tower collapsed during the earthquake of 550. Later, King Louis IX erected a watching tower in the same location. The Mantara cave was once again discovered accidentally by a shepherd in 1726. An icon of the Virgin was also discovered, and it was of Byzantine style, dating back to the 7th or to the 8th century. Since then, the cave has been transformed into a place of pilgrimage for all the Lebanese confessions. In 1860, the Greek Catholic Church became the owner, and transformed the cave into a sanctuary in 1880.

At the beginning of the sixties, under the auspices of Mgr Basile Khoury, renowned architect Varoujan Zaven designed and executed a beautiful hexagonal chapel topped by a 36-meter tower in a conical shape to support an 8 and a half meter one-piece bronze statue of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in her arms, of his own design as well, realized by Italian artist Pierrotti in Pietra Santa. The design and supervision of the project were both a donation on behalf of the architect. Our Lady of Mantara is considered the protectress of children, and many baptisms are celebrated at the sanctuary.

On November 22nd 1986, the armed conflict between Amal (Shi’a Muslim militias) and the PLO (The Palestine Liberation Organization) spread to Maghdouché. Ferocious combats took place in this Christian strategic town. Ultimately, it fell partially in the hands of the Palestinians and its residents were forced to flee from their homes. Maghdouché was destroyed. In 1990, after four years, the residents of Maghdouché returned to the ruins of their village and began rebuilding what was destroyed in the war. (wiki)

30JUL13. Maghdouche, Lebanon.



It is stated in the Bible that Jesus visited the “coasts” of Tyre and Sidon and healed a Gentile (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Gospel of Luke 6:17, Matthew 11:21–23). A congregation was founded here soon after the death of Saint Stephen, and Paul of Tarsus, on his return from his third missionary journey, spent a week in conversation with the disciples there. According to Irenaeus of Lyons in Adversus Haereses, the female companion of Simon Magus came from here.

After a first failed siege in 1111, it was captured by the Crusaders in 1124, becoming one of the most important cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was part of the royal domain, although there were also autonomous trading colonies there for the Italian merchant cities. The city was the site of the archbishop of Tyre, a suffragan of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; its archbishops often acceded to the Patriarchate. The most notable of the Latin archbishops was the historian William of Tyre.

After the reconquest of Acre by King Richard on July 12, 1191, the seat of the kingdom moved there, but coronations were held in Tyre. In the 13th century, Tyre was separated from the royal domain as a separate crusader lordship. In 1291, it was retaken by the Mameluks which then was followed by Ottoman rule before the modern state of Lebanon was declared in 1920. (wiki)

28JUL13. Tyre, Lebanon.