I spent many years of my childhood in the port city of Haifa located at the mid-Northern part of Israel. When you grow up in a place it is so easy to take its beauty and unique wonders for granted. But the wonder of the Baha’i Garden in Haifa can never be taken for granted. Attracting over half a million visitors a year, the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and Akko (the ancient city a little further north), are counted as one of the wonders of the Middle East.
You don’t need to know much about the Baha’i Faith to appreciate the beauty of their collective, multi-generational creation. Made up of a giant staircase of 19 terraces, the Baha’i Garden in Haifa sweeps down the northern slop of the beautiful mount Carmel. The garden’s cultivated plants are numerous and lush, casting the illusion of an eternal Spring. And amid all this beauty rises a golden dome, the Shrine of the Báb, where the prophet and herald of the Baha’i Faith is believed to be buried.
Walking the meandering graveled lanes amid manicured flower beds and perfectly trimmed hedges, I could smell the scent of the Mediterranean sea on the breeze. Here and there unobtrusive gardeners labored silently, a sudden, shocking reminder that all this beauty, though so flawlessly framed, is the work of men’s hands. I could see the panorama of Haifa’s lower sections sprawling below the Baha’i garden, and all the modern cars and buildings suddenly looked so out of place.
But I was the one out of step with time. Standing atop the Baha’i garden stairway, looking down on the terraced garden and, beyond the Haifa harbor, at the ancient city of Akko, I felt as if I had stepped into that famous epic poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “It was a miracle of rare device,” for here the patients of the Baha’i followers have turned an ordinary mountain in a garden fit for God.
Visitors to Israel tend to focus on Jerusalem as the city of history, and Tel Aviv as the city of modern life. Haifa is often excluded from short trips to this beautiful country. So if you are visiting Israel make a note in your journal to visit the Baha’i Garden in Haifa. The serenity and terraced architecture of the place are unique and breathtaking. Truly this is a garden like no other.
Visit the Baha’i Garden in Haifa to see more pictures and learn about their visiting hours.