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Christmas in Bethlehem
Overview of Haifa
Haifa, Israel's third largest city, is the urban center of the country's northern region. Located on the historic Mount Carmel, the city and its surrounding villages have been inhabited for 3,000 years. Today the port city is home to historical sites alongside Mediterranean beaches, and lies only a short drive away from the Sea of Galilee.
History of Haifa
Haifa stands today on land first settled in the Late Bronze Age, and was conquered by successive armies including Caliphates and the Crusaders. A monastery was established by Carmelites in Haifa in the 12th century, and still endures as the Stella Maris Lighthouse and Carmelite Monastery. The city was taken from the Crusaders by Saladin, and changed hands repeatedly until becoming part of what is now modern Israel.
Attractions in and around Haifa
The beaches of Haifa, such as the Carmel Beach or Bat Galim, offer visitors the opportunity to simply relax or go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Potential shoppers can stop by the Haifa Mall or the Hutzot Hamifratz center, and museum-goers can visit the Haifa Museum of Art, the Haifa Institute of Science and the National Maritime Museum. Haifa is also known for its world renowned university, the Technion, reputed as one of the most advanced technological programs in the world.
Haifa's most striking landmark is the Baha'i Shrine and Gardens, the International headquarters for the Bahai's Faith. The the shrine is considered the second holiest shrine within the Baha'i Faith and is situated in the city center. The most impressive part of the shrine is the impressive Baha'i Gardens, completed in 2001. Pilgrims come to Haifa from all parts of the world to pay homage to the first leaders of their religion, which emphasizes unity across all cultures and religions.
Haifa is also home to religious places of interest for the Abrahamic faiths. The Cave of Elijah, just below the Stella Maris Lighthouse, is believed to where the prophet hid when fleeing from Ahab, king of Israel. Stella Maris Monastery is located surrounding the cave, and holds mass regularly.
Mount Carmel itself, upon which Haifa stands, is an especially prominent site within the Bible. It was on the mountain that Elijah is believed to have lived, and it is on Mount Carmel that the Bible records the prophet dueling with 450 priests of the god Baal. The opposing parties agreed to a contest in which the true god would consume the group's sacrifice. Elijah emerged victorious after dousing his offering several times with water to make the sacrifice inflammable, while the god of the Baal priests remained silent.
Where to stay in Haifa
Nearby Sites of Interest
Caesarea (15 minutes)
Atlit (10 minutes)
Acre (30 minutes)
Megiddo (25 minutes)
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