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April 14, 2010April 14, 2010  3 comments  Geography

 

If you are like most tourists visiting Israel, you've been up and down the streets of Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher? Check. Garden of Gethsemane? Sure. You've probably even spent time down in Tel Aviv seeing all the culture this vibrant and modern country has to offer. But have you spent some time seeing Israel's third city, Haifa?


Haifa is famous for a variety of reasons. Besides being another city that existed at the time of Jesus and where He may have spent significant amounts of time, it's also a quiet giant with some wonderful things to see all its own.


Start with the most unusual tourist attraction you're likely to ever visit in Israel - The one and only subway in the country, the Carmelit. The Carmelit is a funicular, i.e., a subway that climbs up and down the side of a mountain. Those old enough to remember the reference will be forgiven for wondering if the stations were designed by someone from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (the original, not the remake), or perhaps the designers of KAOS headquarters were involved. The tiling on the wall is quite loud and the stations, since they are all on the side of a mountain run diagonally up and down. The cars themselves are slanted to accommodate the unique design of the system and as such the doors tend to look completely off kilter from the station.


At the top of the Carmelit (and the top of Mount Carmel), walk a few blocks down Hanassi street and you can visit the world famous Bahai Gardens. The Bahai believe in accepting people of all faiths and they worship Jesus as being another teller of truth. The gardens are a UNESCO world heritage site and they extend all the way up the north side of Mount Carmel. You can walk down the side of the mountain or just enjoy the amazing view from the promenade while you relax in the warm Mediterranean sun.


If you choose to stay up on top of the mountain, walk a few more blocks down Hannassi Street and you can pay a visit to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese art. This museum, while small, is unique in Israel as the only place you can go to see artistic expression from the Japanese people.


When you go, be sure to ask for a multi-museum ticket. As of April 2010, a standard ticket costs 30 shekels (about $8.00) while a combined ticket is 45 shekels (around $12). However, by buying the combined ticket you gain access to four museums all around Haifa for one price. The museums included in your price are:


  • The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
  • The Haifa Museum of Art
  • The National Maritime Museum
  • The Haifa City Museum

 

The Haifa Museum of Art is also available off the Carmelit, while the Haifa City Museum and the National Maritime Museum are accessible by using public buses in the city.


Those visiting with children should definitely check out the National Museum of Science. While the entrance fee is somewhat pricey at 60 shekels per person (around $17), the entire museum is devoted to telling the story of science to children with hundreds of "please touch" exhibits for them to see. Those with families can get a family admission for up to five people at a cost of 190 shekels (around $50).


There are also some Christian sites in Haifa, such as the Cave of Elijah, holy to both Jews and Christians, where the prophet Elijah is said to have ascended to heaven and the Stella Maris, named for Mary by a small sect known as the Carmelites.


Over-all, this is a city well worth spending a few days in and where you can really enjoy a more relaxed side of Israel.


Haifa Museum of Art

26 Shabbetai Levi Street, Haifa

04-8523255, 04-9115991

http://www.hms.org.il/

Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art

89 Hanassi Ave., Haifa
04-8383554, 04-9115955 

http://www.hms.org.il/

National Maritime Museum

198 Allenby Rd, Haifa

 

04-8536622, 04-9115746

http://www.hms.org.il/

Haifa City Museum

11 Ben Gurion Ave., Haifa

04-9115888

http://www.hms.org.il/


National Science Museum

25 Shmariyahu Levine St. / 12 Balfour St
Hadar Hacarmel
P.o.box 44927
Haifa 31448

04-8614444


Bahai Gardens Haifa:


Elijah's Cave


Stella Maris


 
 

 


December 11, 2012December 11, 2012  0 comments  Events

Few festivals in the Holy Land are celebrated by Jews, Christians and Moslems. But in Haifa, Israel's third largest city with a population of 264,000 people, there is one special festival that brings together both Jewish and Arabs and displays a diversity of cultures.

 

For the 19th time, Haifa is now hosting its Holiday of Holidays Festival at Beit HaGefen, Wadi Nisnas and in the German Colony. The festival promotes tolerance, patience and respect by showcasing culture and art.

 

Haifa is a mixed city: 90% are Jews, more than a quarter of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and 10% are Arabs, predominantly Christian. The city is also home to the Bahá'í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


In addition, Haifa's traditional Winter Holidays street party will take place during the Festival in the German Colony, in celebration of both Christmas and Hanukah. The Holiday of Holidays encompasses almost an entire month of events, with special highlights on the weekends. Unique artists' workshops are held each Wednesday during December, and other events will take place throughout the week.

 

If you go:

Holiday of Holidays highlights:
6.12.12 - Festival's opening night at Beit HaGefen
8.12.12 - First Saturday in the families' activity area and the Wadi - 10:00-16:00
15.12.12 - Second Saturday, Helicon's Sha'ar Poetry Festival in the families' activity area and the Wadi - 10:00-16:00
20.12.12 - Winter Holidays street party in the German Colony
22.12.12 - Third Saturday in the families' activity area and the Wadi - 10:00-16:00
29.12.12 - Forth Saturday in the families' activity area and the Wadi - 10:00-16:00

 

*   *    *    *

Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


June 14, 2010June 14, 2010  1 comments  attractions

It is not often that one stands at the bottom of a mountain and finds himself at a look-out point, yet this is precisely the experience of standing at the bottom of Mt. Carmel in Haifa, seat of the Baha'i Gardens and Baha'i World Center.

 

writer: Chaya Ben Shimon

 

 

the Bahai GardensWhen positioned at the foot of the mountain, the observer is treated to a vision of unparalleled beauty - a pristine garden with nineteen terraces sweeping majestically up to the mountain's summit.

 

The foliage that extends the length of the mountain seamlessly strikes a divine chord with greenery that appears to ascend into the heavens, aptly revealing the meaning of the mountain's name: Carmel, the Vineyard of the Lord. The view from the top of the mountain is no less enchanting. Soft winds compliment a panorama of sea, city, and flower blossoms, ornamented by the stately golden dome of the Baha'i Gardens' shrine to its founder, the Báb.

 

The Baha'i faith is the world's newest religion. In the mid 19th century in Shiraz, Iran, a merchant by the name of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad Shirází, or the as he was more commonly known, announced the coming of a messenger who would manifest the prophesies foretold by a plethora of the world's iconic spiritual leaders, including Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad. In preparation for this event, the Báb took eighteen students to disseminate this message, and instructed them in a new way of religious thinking, one which would open their eyes and hearts to the spiritual revelation of the Baha'i faith.

 

In contrast to the stark polemical atmosphere into which the Baha'i faith was born, its message is one of plurality and unification. A central belief of Baha'i followers is that each of the aforementioned prophets and their various teachings constitute part of a long line of divine revelations that emanate from a single, universal religion, whose ultimate goal is to unify all humanity under a banner of common good and mutual respect and affection.

 

Shoghi Effendi, a preeminent Baha'i thinker, explains that Baha'is believe "that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society."

Not long after the Báb's death in 1850, a man called Baha'u'llah revealed himself as the messenger the Báb had spoken of, the prophet sent inform the people of the world of their impending oneness. In spite of his forty year imprisonment in Acre under the Ottoman Empire, Baha'u'llah managed to consolidate and codify the tenants of the religion, along with his son, Abdu'l-Bahá, who became the next leader of the fledgling religion. Today, the Baha'i faith has over 6 million members in 260 countries, making it the most dispersed religion on the planet.

the Bahai Gardens & HaifaBaha'i Gardens and World Center is the ultimate reflection of the Baha'i experience. Its history is recorded in the architecture of the gardens, which features nineteen levels that represent the Bab and his eighteen students, and various shrines to the faith's most influential leaders. More than just a museum of relics however, the Baha'i World Center focuses on the community's present and future, housing the administrative and governmental bodies of the religion.

 

But most importantly, the gardens are a beacon for Baha'i followers, who come to volunteer, pray, and meet their religious obligation of making pilgrimage. There is a special serenity marked in the step of the Baha'i believer, who is notably more contemplative than the rest of the gardens' visitors, stopping to listen to the running water of the monument's numerous fountains, or standing motionless while looking out over the breathtaking views of Haifa.

A Baha'i may even be caught with his back to the Mediterranean, taking in the view of Mt. Carmel from within the gardens, likely savoring what looks to be a stairway to another realm. Doubtless, for the Baha'i and non-Baha'i alike, the Baha'i Gardens offer 360% of beauty, encompassing its visitors in a world that does seem as unified and whole as the Baha'is envision it.

 

As much as it is symbol of the Baha'i faith, the Baha'i Gardens itself is also emblematic of the city of Haifa, Israel's most demographically diverse city, which prides itself on coexistence and cooperation. The ethos of tolerance that prevails in Haifa exemplifies and reflects the enduring Baha'i belief that a day will come when all men will unite as one.

 


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