You arrive in Haifa at the bottom of an impressive mountain covered in the most exquisitely ornate garden running up the front.
From the bottom the symmetry of the garden is not only impressive, it’s intriguing. It adds to the seaside town feel, creating something reminiscent of the gardens of Versailles and southern France. Even the town below seems to follow the line of symmetry straight to the sea.
After a short drive we stopped halfway up to explore the Baha’i shrine and look out over the sea, wondering if we were in fact at a Buddhist temple in the middle of Israel. After all, that’s the only time we’d been required to remove our shoes to enter a temple or seen such ornate decoration before.
We continued up the mountain to the top where a tour guide led us into the gardens in two large groups. We could only go down, 700 steps, not up unless we were making the Baha’i pilgrimage.
Our tour guide, a young enthusiastic Jew explained that we could not meet the Baha’i ourselves since it was in their laws that they could not evangelize their religion. This definitely peaked my curiosity.
Baha’i is the youngest monotheistic religion in the world and happened to settle down in Israel, a country already full to the brim with religion, after the second prophet, originally a Muslim was exiled from his own country and banished to a jail in Haifa.
The long story short is that he fell in love with the view of the mountain from his jail cell window and decided to bury the bones of the first prophet there and instructed his son to build a beautiful shrine.
Regardless of whether you have any interest in the religion, the gardens are worth a visit for their sheer size and beauty.
Haifa is an easy drive from Nazareth but I would definitely suggest booking the tour I participated in because it includes a full tour of the gardens plus two other cities.
Putting It Together
- Abraham Tours offers a tour of Haifa, Akko and Rosh Hanikra every Tuesday
- The entire tour costs 290 NIS (about $70) and can be booked in advance here
- The tour picks up at 7 AM near Mary’s Well in Nazareth
- In addition to the three cities, you will also stop at a local olive grove and Mount Precipice
- The driver will drop you off at each stop in Haifa, giving you an allotted amount of time to explore except at the Baha’i gardens where you are handed over to a knowledgeable tour guide
Do you prefer self-guided tours to those with a strict schedule?
Planning your own trip to Israel and looking for suggestions? Check out my itinerary for one week in Israel plus a second week to visit Jordan and Egypt.
Wondering why I’m in Israel? Read this post here.