January 1st 2015
A rare and beautiful gem in the middle of the bustling city of Haifa, the Bahai Gardens are considered to be one of Israel’s must-see destinations. A walk through the gardens reveals stunning colors, brilliant art and a sense of nature’s bounty.
The Bahai Gardens are a landmark that is seen from a distance. The grounds include 19 terraces, the highest being the Persian Gardens. The gardens are designed in concentric circles, with fountains, metal, stone, expansive lawns and shrubbery. They stretch for one kilometer, from the base of Carmel Mountain to its summit. At the entrance to the gardens is also the Ursula Malbin Sculpture Garden, which is a great place for visitors to relax and take in the beautiful views from the garden’s apex.
The gardens are planted with trees and flowers that bloom all year round. Formal landscaping blends into less formal landscaping, which transitions to rugged natural terrain. The gardens are decorated with beautiful ornaments made of metal and stone, but the main decoration is the integration of light and water, which creates mirror-like surfaces. In the evenings, the gardens are lit up with decorative lamps, with a shrine glistening at the center.
The gardens surround the holiest site to the Bahai religion, which espouses beliefs of tolerance and equality. Bahai doctrine is based on the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humankind. This monotheistic religion was formed in 19th century Persia, and its founder, Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi (known as “the Bab”) is buried nearby. Forty years after his burial, the Bab’s shrine was built and surrounded by gardens.
The Bahai shrine has a gold dome, marble walls and granite pillars. Its dome is made of 12,000 interlocking tiles of 50 different shapes and sizes, made in Portugal. The shrine is decorated with emerald green and scarlet mosaics and many intricate decorations and motifs. Inside the shrine, no religious ceremonies or prayers are held. It is a place for individual quiet prayer and meditation.
Every day of the week except Wednesday, weather permitting, a walking tour of the gardens is conducted. The tour is free, and reservations are not necessary. The tour starts at 45 Yefe Nof Street, and lasts 50 minutes, ending at the main garden entrance on Hatzionut Avenue. The tour focuses on the design and maintenance of the gardens and their significance to the Bahai religion. It is not recommended for people with walking difficulties or other health issues.