Baha’i Gardens in Akko

February 9th 2014

Acco Bahai GardensAlthough the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa are the more well-known among world travelers, the Baha’i Gardens in Akko are ironically considered more sacred in the Baha’i tradition. The Baha’i Gardens in Akko are known to members of the Baha’i faith as The Most Holy Sanctuary and serve as a popular pilgrimage site. Collectively, the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and Akko are listed among the 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel.

Constructed in a circular formation around the luxurious home where Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i faith lived in the years preceding his death in 1892, the center of the gardens include a shrine containing his remains. The path leading to the circular gardens, which are themselves divided into four sections, is elongated and straight, encouraging visitors to enter a contemplative state of mind before arriving at the central area of the gardens.

The Baha’i Gardens in Akko are known both for their precision and for the serene atmosphere they create. Look for the ancient sycamore fig tree and the remains of an old olive grove. Notice the geometrical shapes that are created with plants and trees. The shrine itself is in the northwest corner of the central area and the pathways leading up to the small room are decorated by Persian rugs.

The gardens are open every day except for closures on Yom Kippur, holidays in the Baha’i calendar and occasionally during periods of heavy rain. The best times to visit are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, or on Monday mornings. During these times, visitors can enter the inner garden and visit the shrine, although no photography is permitted in the shrine itself. During other times of the week, visits are restricted to the outer gardens and the perimeter path. Organized tours for groups of 25 or more can be arranged.

The garden is a religious site, and there is no fee for admission. Visitors are asked to maintain the decorum of the venue and to dress modestly. Clothing for both men and women should cover the shoulders and at least reach the knee. It’s a good idea to wear shoes with rubber soles since the walkways can be slippery, especially in the winter. No drinks other than water are allowed, and no food, smoking, guns or weapons are permitted inside the gardens.