May 17, 2017
Our second day in the port of Haifa, we chose to enjoy the city. Our primary destination was the Baha’i Gardens and Shrine which was closed for yearly cleaning on our visit last year – to our disappointment. So we wanted to be sure to see it this year.
Haifa is Israel’s third largest city and it has the country’s largest port. It does have beautiful beaches. Haifa is known as a symbol of outstanding co-existence and tolerance among all of the faiths that are represented here. Nine percent are Moslem and Christian Arabs.
The Baha’i Gardens and Shrine are way up on a hill and everyone expressed dismay when we said we wanted to walk. According to our trackers, all in all we climbed 97 stories and walked almost 9 miles!
Part of the religious tolerance extends to the Bahai Faith whose World Center is here. The center is on the slope of the Carmel. The Shrine of the Bab is the burial place of the Bab, the founder of the faith. 35 years ago we could tour the entire place but now visitors are only allowed in the small shrine and no pictures are allowed. We were disappointed and asked about it. We were told there are now too many visitors to keep track of. Of course the gardens are open but only the Baha’i are allowed on the actual terraces.
A bit about the Baha’i faith. It is the most recent of the world’s religions. The principles are the following:
- Abandonment of all forms of prejudice
- Full equality between the sexes
- Recognition of the common source and essential oneness of the world’s great religions
- Elimination of the extremes of poverty and wealth
- Univesal compulsory education
- Right and responsibility of each person to search independently for truth
- Establishment of a world federal system
- Recognition that faith must be consistent with reason and that science and religion should be in harmony.
The Baha’i Faith has no clergy and its affairs are administered through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels. There are 12,000 local councils around the world.
Based on all of this, I think I could easily identify with the Baha’i faith!
There ae 70 gardens terraced around the shrine and they are spectacular. At night the entire area is lit up. Not a great picture but you can see how far the compound extends.
On the way we passed beautiful houses, orange trees and a lovely sculpture garden.
Here are some of the shots of the garden and the outside of the Shrine.
After our visit, we continued walking up to beyond the Dan Hotel at the top of the hill to visit the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art.
We really enjoyed the small museum and the film telling its story. Before we left, we almost missed the additional room – adults only. Here is just one of the pictures we took (and we WERE allowed to take pictures!) Who knew that the Japanese were so graphic! And most of the art was from the 1700s.
We had a great Israeli lunch (the chicken schwarma was the best I have had) and then began the trek back to the port.
Norm stopped to get a haircut!
And they are serious about their signs!
We stopped in the German Colony (founded in the 19th century by German Templars who came to establish a Christian community in the Holy Land) for a bit of shopping. The beautifully preserved homes here still have the names of the original residents etched on them. We got back to the ship tired but happy!
We had our anniversary dinner celebration in the Grand Dining Room and really enjoyed our time with friends. Again, Robert took pictures which I don’t have yet – but will add when I get them. Here are just a couple that I took:
Tomorrow we are in Cyprus. The climate is now much more Mediterranean – I think those days of temps in the 100’s may be over.