So…last weekend I organized a trip to Haifa, Israel’s third largest city on the slopes of Mount Carmel on the Mediterranean Sea. On the two hour bus ride there, I sort of had a pessimistic view; two Israelis in Jerusalem were flabbergasted when I told them of our plans. “What,” they said, “you’re going to Haifa? Why would you want to go there? There is nothing to do there.”
Wow, I am not sure what Haifa they went to, but I had an absolutely amazing time. I have been to some pretty cool places around the world, and I know this trip was only 48 hours, but Haifa ranks up there with some of the other cities I have been to on several continents.
The first day we explored the Bahá’í Gardens, the beautifully manicured gardens that grace the verdant northern slopes of sleepy Mt. Carmel. Founded in the 19th century, the Bahá’í faith is founded upon mutual equality and the elimination of all prejudices. They believe in all the prophets of the global religions (Moses, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha, etc.) along with their own special two. The pristine and meticulous gardens are a tribute to the equality and symmetry they believe should be a part of daily life. Haifa is their world center and the most holy site in their religion. Spilling onto Ben Gurion Street and leading to the cerulean sea, the Gardens and Shrine really are awesome. We took a tour (only 1 tour is offered each day, in Hebrew, English, and Russian) as it is the only to climb down the 704 steps from the top of the slope to the middle of the mountain where the Gardens end.
Sadly, however, the beautiful golden Shrine was being renovated and covered in brown tarps. Oh well.
- View of downtown Haifa from a side lookout before reaching the top of the Gardens.
- Same site as above, but looking down at the Gardens themselves.
- Same as above
- The tallest building in Haifa, a sail-like skyscraper.
- The main administrative building of the Bahá’í faith
- Hello, topiary trees
- Looking down the Gardens