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The Capital of North Israel
On the slopes of the Carmel Mountains lies Haifa, capital of the North of Israel. Haifa is a special city due to the diversity of its landscapes and cultures. Five religions are actively practiced and represented in Haifa and the surrounding area: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Druze and Bahai, creating a multi-cultural social fabric. Haifa also boasts breathtaking scenery that can be viewed from just about every point in Haifa. From the beaches and curved bay to the forested range of the Carmel Mountains, Haifa is a joy to look at. Located about an hour away from Tel-Aviv area, Haifa is a great gateway for exploring the North Western part of Israel.
Haifa’s history has been set around its strategic location on a natural harbor on the Mediterranean Sea. Haifa’s historical roots can be traced back to 4th century C.E when a small fishing and trading port was built near the present day location of Rambam Hospital. The Persian occupation during the 6th century C.E accelerated the development of the costal area including cites such as Jaffa, Acre and Haifa. In 1099 the Crusaders reached Eretz Israel (Palestine) and after taking Jerusalem they laid siege of Haifa and sacked it destroying the docks and shipyards. The city was later sacked again by the Mamluke invaders and came back to life under Ottoman and rule in the 16th Century. Today Haifa is a vivid metropolitan and Israel’s third largest city. The effects of its history are mirrored in the diversity of its people and cultures.
Places of Interest
Haifa has many interesting places to visit and explore. From golden beaches to religious sites, Haifa has much to offer. Here is a small sample of the many places that one can visit in Haifa:
Elijah the Prophet's center of activities, and now a pilgrimage site for Christians, Muslims and Jews who come here throughout the year to pray and to beseech special favors. Many pilgrims have left inscriptions on the walls throughout the ages.
THE BAHAI TEMPLE WITH THE GOLDEN DOME
The temple is a center of the Bahai religion. The temple is surrounded by breathtaking gardens, built of 19 separate gardened terraces, fountains and promenades, from the top of Mt. Carmel until its foothills. The Bahai temples are known worldwide for the architectural and natural beauty, and the Haifa temple is an exquisite exemplar. The entrance to the gardens is free of charge.
An impressive church of the Carmelite Order, Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) is also a Catholic pilgrimage site. The monastery served as a hospital for Napoleon's soldiers and a monument to French soldiers was erected in front of the Church. There is no entrance fee, and the Haifa Tourist Board sponsors "Sounds of Stella Maris" concerts at the church, the last Thursday of each month.
A Carmelite Monastery on top of a hill on the, where, according to the tradition, Prophet Elijah fought with the emissaries of Baal (a Canaanite deity). The monastery and church are set in a delightful forested area with a beautiful garden. From the monastery there is a fascinating vista in all directions.
THE DRUZE VILLAGES
The Usfiya and Daliat-el-Carmel Druze villages are located on the Carmel summit near the Muchraka. This is a good place to get acquainted with the friendly and hospitable Druze people. In the center of Daliat-el-Carmel you can find a colorful market, open daily except Fridays, an excellent place to shop for local handicrafts.