Haifa. Love and harmony
The city of Haifa, spread out on the slopes of Mount Carmel, is very interestingly arranged – in several tiers. The lower city by the sea and the port, by the way, the largest port in Israel are business and office areas. Along the sea, modern buildings of glass and concrete glisten in the sun, adjacent to real slums. Old, shabby, abandoned houses with empty dark eye sockets of windows very close by. This area does not look so because of mismanagement. It arose at the very beginning of the 20th century, even under the Turks. Muslim Arabs lived here, who left their homes after the 1948 War of Independence. In Israel, there is a law under which owners of abandoned property have the right to return it to themselves no later than 50 years later. Of course, none of the former residents is going to return, and does not have such an opportunity. But the law is the law, and abandoned houses stand. However, 50 years have already expired, and the area is gradually beginning to be demolished.
Above the mountain, the middle part of the city is Adar Harel, Haifa’s shopping center. Well, all the beauty and prestige – on the tops of Mount Carmel, where there are luxury residential areas, the best hotels, entertainment centers and expensive shops. From anywhere in the Carmel Center, a magnificent and beautiful view of the whole city opens.
You could admire the city slowly descending to the sea from the panoramic window of the Holiday Inn, where the press group stayed.
One of the main attractions of Haifa, where we have sought so much, is the Bahai Temple and the hanging gardens surrounding it, which permeate from top to bottom half a city. It is for the sake of this truly unique place that most tourists come here.
Haifa is the world center of the Bahai religion. On the slope of Mount Carmel in the city center is the tomb of Baba, the Bahai prophet. A mausoleum was erected above it in 1909 – the Bahai temple, which was completed to its present form with a golden dome only in 1953. True, today the temple is under restoration and temporarily closed.
On the territory of the Bahai complex there is also the building of the World House of Justice – the highest judicial authority of the Baha’is in charge of the affairs of the community, and the building of the Bahai archive, which contains manuscripts of the founder of religion and his followers.
A unique decoration of the whole complex is hanging gardens with fountains, where trees, shrubs and plants are collected of extraordinary beauty. Gardens with semicircular manicured flowering terraces descend from Mount Carmel to the Bahai Temple and further to the lower gates of the complex.
The Bahai religion is very interesting, it is monotheistic and is not a separate movement of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or Buddhism. Its main principles – the whole world is one, all people are equal. God in the person of the prophets educates people and determines their fate. The most recent of the prophets was El-Bah, he was persecuted by Muslims and was executed in Iran in 1850. His remains lie in the Bahai temple.
Hanging gardens surrounding the temple are also a reflection of the essence of the Bahai religion, which boils down to universal love and harmony in everything. After a walk along the perfectly groomed alleys among the flowering shrubs and emerald lawns, I really wanted to become a bagel and find this very inner harmony.
By the way, any person can become a Bahai, among believers – residents of different countries, representatives of different nationalities and social strata. To help take care of the plants of the Bahai gardens, a line of volunteers is being built.
Haifa has many other fascinating sights. For example, the Carmelite monastery Stela Maris, which has its own interesting and complicated history. The residents of the city are proud of the Carmelit funicular. The cars depart from the seashore to the very top of the mountain, from where, after admiring the view from the observation deck, you can go down the famous staircase of a thousand steps. The road will pass by the gardens and the German colony to the coastal part of the city.
Haifa has over a dozen museums, such as the National Maritime Museum, the Bread Museum, the Railway Museum and others. And the city of Acre was waiting for us – one of the oldest cities in Israel.