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Baha’i Shrine and Gardens

bahi_haifa_israelThe spectacular gold-domed Shrine of the Bab is one of the most impressive sights in Israel. Located in the beautiful Persian Gardens, the Shrine is the main spiritual centre of the Baha’i faith, which has a worldwide following of five million believers. The outer gardens are open daily between 09:00 and 17:00, admission is free. The inner gardens are open daily from 09:00 until noon, but visitors can only go in with a guided tour. The tours are free, but dress respectfully covering arms and legs. Shoes must be removed before entering the Shrine. Also look out for the dramatic temple styled World House of Justice, visible on the hill behind the Shrine. There are 18 terraced gardens, 18 according to the number of students of Abdulbaha, one of the leading figures in the faith. Nine are above and nine below the shrine.

For more information about the gardens click here.

Elijah’s Cave

On the steep winding path leading up to the Carmelite Monastery, lies a small hollow, believed to be the place where the prophet Elijah hid after slaying the 400 Priests of Ba’al. Today the place is frequented by many orthodox Jews as well as pilgrims from all other major religions. The surrounding gardens have become a favorite location for picnics by both locals and tourists alike. The cave is open Sunday to Thursday from 08:00 am to 17:00 and Friday from 08:30 until 12:45. Admission is free.

Stella Maris Church and Monastery

picThe impressive 18th century church and monastery has been built over a cave, believed by the Carmelites to be the home of Prophet Elijah. According to history, Napoleon left 200 sick soldiers in the monastery after he attacked Akko and fled to Egypt. All of these were killed by the Ottoman forces. The adjoining church houses some beautiful painted ceilings worth visiting to view the impressive illustrations depicting, amongst other things, Elijah with the famous Chariots of Fire. There is also a small museum next door to the Church containing examples of archaeological ruins from the Byzantine and Crusader periods. The museum is open daily from 08:30 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 18:00. Admission is free.

Haifa University

By far the best place in Haifa for great panoramic views over the city and port is from the University, located on the summit of Mount Carmel. The university campus is dominated by the 25 storey Eshkol Tower, which features a top-floor observatory and basement museum. Free guided tours of the campus are available at various times throughout the week. On arrival at the campus use the internal phone system to contact the Public Affairs Department who will be able to inform you of the tour times for the day.

For more information visit the university website.

Carmel National Park

Carmel_National_ ParkThe rolling slopes of Israel’s largest national park are located just a short bus or “Sherut” ride from downtown Haifa. Known locally as “Little Switzerland”, the park is famous for its fertility and ancient vineyards. It’s also the location of the “Haibar”, a reservation where animals, that used to be common in these regions, are being kept. In one area of the park is kibbutz “Bet Oren”, which offers horse riding in the park. The breathtaking views stretch all the way to Caesarea. Beyond the park one can find two large Druze villages, Daliyat el-Carmel and Ussefiyah. The park is ideal for hiking tours.

The German Colony

pic_4The first settlements of the Templar Society in Israel were established in Haifa in the 1870′s. The generously laid out settlement of the Templars in Haifa became the core of today’s city. The former colonial street (Ben Gurion Avenue) has become a landmark of Haifa. It runs from the sea straight to the Carmel Mountain. Many of the old buildings have been renovated, amongst them the former community centre, which houses the new historical museum of Haifa. The Tourist Information Office and many bars, cafes and restaurants are also housed in the old buildings. Above many entrances to the houses one can find stone-engraved verses of the bible. In the evening, the view from the street up the mountain is beautiful, the illuminated gardens of the Baha’i are seen up to the peak of Mount Carmel.

For more information about the German Colony on Wikipedia page, click here.

Beaches

Sunrise over seaWhen you think of Haifa, you probably don’t automatically think of beaches, but believe it or not, Haifa offers long stretches of golden sands that are far less crowded than Tel Aviv. There is “Bat Galim” beach, which is the smaller of the two areas, comprising both sand and rocks. It features a promenade walk and a “Yotveta” restaurant, which also houses the station for the cable car. “Hof HaCarmel” is the larger of the two and has a big promenade offering plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes. All the facilities are very modern, there are plenty of free events taking place there throughout the summer and there are green areas as well. It has a slight ‘Baywatch flavour’ with its watch towers.

Sculpture Garden

haifa_skul1haifa_skul2This park is located just above the Baha’i Temple in Hatzionut Blvd. and features 29 bronze sculptures by the artist Ursula Malbin. No admission fee, open 24 hours.

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