The Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa:
the shrine and the inner gardens can only be visited from 9:00 to 12:00 noon and the Shrine in Haifa will be closefor deep cleaning 29 July – 11 August, inclusive. Gardens open as usual.
More info on the official web site.
Sitting proudly on the hillside, the golden domed Baha'i Temple and surrounding Hanging Gardens dominate the skyline from the coastal road. Chicago and Haifa are the 2 main centres for this faith, and a recent huge investment resulted in the complete re-landscaping of the gardens, descending several hundred feet down the slopes.
They're very formal gardens and, at its heart, stands the golden-domed Shrine of the Bab, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith.
Outer gardens open 9am-5pm daily, inner gardens closer to the shrine close at 12 noon (free entry).
These gardens, located in the heart of Haifa, comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, stands on the central terrace, looking across the bay towards ‘Akko.
While different parts of the gardens offer a variety of experiences, they speak in a common language of graveled paths, hedges and flower beds groomed and nurtured by dedicated gardeners. The gardens frame panoramic views of the city, the Galilee Hills and the Mediterranean Sea.
There are several ways to visit: If you wish to discover the gardens on your own, you can visit any of the three areas that are accessible from different parts of the city, as shown on the interactive site map below. To learn more about these areas, hover or click on the numbers identifying the entrances.
Beautiful gardens on the slope of Mount Carmel, overlooking Haifa harbor. Open to the public free of charge, the Gardens are still a religious site and as such require modest dress, and quiet consideration of others.
Only a section of the terraced gardens were open when I visited (I believe due to our time of arrival), but what we did see was absolutely breathtaking. The Shrine offers free walking tours daily - if you have the time, I would think that would be a wonderful thing to do.
If Haifa is famous for anything nowadays, it has to be the Bahai temple and gardens on the slope of Mount Carmel. According to a recent newspaper article, almost half of all tourists to Haifa go there just to see the gardens (now a World Heritage Site). Tours are free, but you need to call in advance to join one of the groups that go either up or down the mountain. The tour guides will tell you the story of Siyyud Ali Muhammad, aka the Bab (meaning “door”), who invented a new religion in mid-19th century Iran, which got him executed by a firing squad.
His remains were hidden by his followers for 60 years, until they were buried in a mausoleum on the Carmel.
The Bab prophesied the coming of the Baha’ullah (meaning “splendor of God”), who was thrown into a dungeon in Tehran, exiled four times and finally imprisoned in Akko. After spending so much time in dark, damp jail cells, maybe it is not that strange that the founders of the Bahai religion hailed light as a metaphor for spiritual illumination, and lush gardens became a synonym for spiritual life.
So yes, by all means go see the Bahai gardens. They are gorgeous – no question about it. But I must tell you that as I walked through this paradise on earth some years ago, I felt a vague sense of unease. The perfection and symmetry are not to be believed. The gardeners use rulers and measuring tapes when they do their pruning to insure that every plant and hedge is perfectly uniform in shape and size. So you are walking through a Garden of Eden - but it is a very controlled one, with very little left up to nature.
Not long ago, I saw a TV documentary about the Bahai that backed up my intuition that there is something vaguely sinister about the place. It turns out that underneath the fabulous terraced gardens laid out with such precision is a gigantic underground hideout complete with bomb shelters, conference rooms, doctors’ clinics, dining hall, supermarket and parking garages – all spotlessly shiny and clean…and eerily empty.
We are in a Hebrew speaking country and our tour guide spoke only Russian -- very funny on deed. We were a group of kibbutz volunteers from 30 years ago holding our reunion. We were Dutch, Scottish, German and English -- but no Russians.
The golden dome of Baha'i Shrine dominates Haifa. Together with its wonderful, "unreal" gardens the shrine features the tomb of the founder of the Bahai faith. The monumental dome over the tomb was completed in 1953.
The Baha'i Shrine and Gardens in Haifa, the focal point of the International Bahai community, is not only the spiritual centre of the Bahai faith, but also its administrative heart.
The Persian Gardens consist of 19 terraces with some wonderful fountains and flowers, marble benches and pathways made of red rubble. In the10th terrace lays the beautiful Shrine of the Bab. Bab was one of the two founders of the Bahai faith. The administrative buildings, although in a modern style,resemble to a certain degree the antique Greek architecture.
The man that the Baha’is believe was the "Promised One" – Husayn-Ali, Baha’u’llah – was exiled from Persia and settled in what was then Palestine under the Ottoman Turkish empire. He is buried near Akko where he died in 1892. Baha’u’llah’s son, Abbas Effendi, instructed believers to purchase large tracts of Mount Carmel overlooking Haifa Bay, which Baha’u’llah had envisaged as the world headquarters of the Baha’i faith
The Faith’s Founder was Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian nobleman from Tehran who, in the mid-nineteenth century, left a life of princely comfort and security . His life, work, and influence parallel that of Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad.
The essential message of Bahá’u’lláh is that of unity. He taught that there is only one God, that there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity. In this day, Bahá’u’lláh said, humanity has collectively come of age. As foretold in all of the world’s scriptures, the time has arrived for the uniting of all peoples into a peaceful and integrated global society. “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens,”
This place in the slope of Haifa includes also the gardens..
From Galy's Haifa page:
"The Golden Dome is a shrine, not a temple, where the Bab (ar. "the Gate") and Baha'u'llah's son Abdu'l-Baha are buried. It's in the Bahai Gardens. You can reach it from the united nation avenue(shderot hatzionut) every day from 09:00a.m. to 12:00 . No need for reservation or organised tour, just walk in. The inside is nice but modest compare with the outside and the sorounding garden. Don't forget to take off your shoes when u enter"
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