Haifa Tourist Attractions
Although it was destroyed in the seventh century, Haifa was famed in the 11th century for its shipbuilding and its Talmudic college. In 1099 it withstood a six- month-long siege by the Crusaders but was finally destroyed.
In 1187 Saladin captured it from the Crusaders, but in 1191 it was recovered by Richard Coeur de Lion. The Crusaders were finally expelled from the town by Sultan Baibars. The monasteries of the Carmelite order, which was founded in Haifa in 1150 by a monk named Berthold, were destroyed after the fall of Acre in 1291, when the monks returned to Europe.Under the Mamelukes and (from 1517) the Ottomans Haifa was an insignificant fishing village. In 1740 Daher el-Amr, lord of Galilee, took the place and founded a new settlement, the present Old City, between Kikar Paris (Paris Square) and the Head Post Office. He also developed the harbor for the export of grain to Egypt. Under Ahmed el-Jazzar, who succeeded Daher in 1775, the Carmelites were able to re-establish themselves near Elijah's Cave. In 1799, during Napoleon's advance on Akko (Acre), their monastery was used as a military hospital, but after Napoleon's withdrawal the French wounded were killed by Ahmed el-Jazzar. On the outbreak of the War of Greek Independence El-Jazzar's successor Abdullah Pasha built a lighthouse (Stella Maris) at Elijah's Cave, 105m/345ft above the sea. He persecuted the Greek Orthodox but in 1828 allowed the French Carmelites to rebuild their monastery by the lighthouse.The importance of Haifa increased with the coming of steamships, for which the nearby harbor of Akko was too small. In 1868 the Jewish population was increased by the arrival of German settlers, members of the Pietist Society of the Temple. Some of their houses have been preserved on both sides of Ben-Gurion Street, and northwest of this, in Jaffa Street, is their cemetery. When these German "Templars" sought to expand on Mount Carmel they came into conflict with the French Carmelites, who closed off much of the hill by building a wall: hence the name of "French Carmel" applied to the western part of the hill.When the German Emperor, William II, visited Haifa in 1898 a jetty was constructed, and thereafter the development of the port continued. The Emperor promoted the idea of linking Haifa with the Hejaz railroad and thus opening up the town's hinterland. The upswing in the economy led to the expansion of the Old City to the northwest, in the direction of the Germany Colony.The first Jewish school had been established in 1881. Christians from Lebanon and Arabs also now moved into the town, and two sects which had broken away from Islam, the Bahai from Persia and the Ahmadiya from India, made Haifa their headquarters.At the beginning of the 20th century a number of Jewish initiatives bore fruit. In 1902 Theodor Herzl, in his book "Old New Land" had hailed Haifa as the "city of the future"; and in 1903 the outlying suburb of Herzliya was established, in 1906 three Russian Zionists founded the Atid ("Future") soap factory, and in 1912 the Technion, an institute of technology, was founded, housed in a building which the Turks used as a military hospital in 1914. When the Technion reopened in 1925 the language of instruction was Hebrew (though the German founders had favored German), and this sparked off a bitter conflict on the language question. Subsequently the Technion grew so rapidly that it became necessary by 1953 to develop a new site, Qiryat HaTechnion.In September 1918 British forces occupied the town. Thereafter a new railroad line was built, linking Haifa with Egypt by way of Gaza. In 1920 Histadrut, the trade union organization, was founded in Haifa. The town developed new suburbs: Hadar HaKarmel ("Glory of Carmel") in 1920, Ahuzat Samuel in 1921, Bat Galim (the "Mermaid") in 1922, Geula ("Rescue") and Newe Sha'anan ("Home of Rest"). New industrial installations came into being. This development continued in spite of conflicts between the Jewish and the Arab populations. The modern deep- water harbor was completed in 1933, followed in 1934 by the development of the oil terminal at the end of the pipeline from Iraq.In 1936, following further outbreaks of violence, the Jewish population left the eastern part of the lower town and concentrated in the Hadar HaKarmel district. Haifa was thus for all practical purposes divided into two. During the Second World War the German members of the Society of the Temple were evacuated. After the war there was continuing conflict between the Jewish underground organization Haganah, the British naval base and the Arabs - a conflict from which Haganah emerged victorious.After the proclamation of the Jewish state in 1948 Haifa acquired great importance as the port of entry for immigrants from Europe. The economic upswing was reflected in the aspect of the city, and the tourist trade was actively promoted.
Situated as it is on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the city is divided into three zones, one above the other. The Old City with its harbor and strip of coast forms the lower town; the central zone consists of the Hadar HaKarmel district, lying at a height of 120m/395ft, with Haifa's main shopping and commercial center; and the upper town, Central Carmel (250-300m/820-985ft), with the town's handsomest residential district and a number of exclusive hotels and restaurants. These different zones were linked in 1959 by the Carmelite underground railroad, which climbs with a gradient of 12% from the lower station in Kikar Paris (Paris Square) by way of four stations in the Hadar district to Gan Ha'em (alt. 280m/920ft), near the scenic Yefe Nof Street.
Mane Katz Museum
The Mane Katz Museum in Haifa contains pictures and sculpture by the Jewish artist Mane Katz, with his personal collection of Judaica and antique furniture.
Between 1929 and 1933 the harbor of Haifa was developed into a deep-water port. It is protected by two moles. The area required for port installations, administrative buildings, warehouses, roads and railroad lines was provided by large-scale land reclamation schemes which have considerably altered the coastline.Permits for admission to the harbor area can be obtained in the tourist information office to the right of the entrance. There are also boat trips round the harbor.
The most striking of the port installations of Haifa are a 10,000 ton floating dock and the Dagon Silo, a grain elevator 68m/223ft high with a capacity of 100,000 tons. On the ground floor of the silo is a Grain Museum opened in 1955 (conducted visits). This presents a general survey of grain storage and processing; the oldest exhibits are millstones and other items from Jericho dating from the eighth millennium B.C.
Opposite the Dagon Silo in Haifa is Ben-Gurion Street (formerly Sderot HaKarmel), the old main street of the German colony founded in 1868 by members of the Society of the Temple which continued to exist until the Second World War. The houses with their tiled roofs are very characteristic.(The cemetery of these modern Templars lies to the northwest, at 150 Jaffa (Yafo) Street, next to a British military cemetery of the First World War).
At the south end of Jaffa Street in Haifa is Paris Square (Kikar Paris), with the lower station of the Carmelite underground railroad and a Maronite church.
Town Hall & Gan Haziqaron
From Paris Square in Haifa Khatib Street and Hanevi'im Street run southwest; then in 300m/330yds Hassan Shukri Street, on left, leads to the Town Hall and, opposite it, Gan Haziqaron (Memorial Park). The park lies at a height of 60m/200ft above sea level on the site of the citadel built by Daher el-Amr, ruler of Galilee from 1740 to 1775. The only relic of the citadel is an old cannon.
A few hundred yards southwest of the Town Hall in Haifa is the Old Technion (College of Technology; the larger New Technion is in the southeastern district of Qiryat HaTechnion). The Old Technion was built between 1914 and 1924 to the design of a Berlin architect, Alexander Baerwald; it combines Oriental features with western ideas on the organization of space. The Old Technion now houses the Institute of Architecture and the Museum of Science and Technology, which illustrates simple scientific principles and the results of recent Israeli research.
From the Old Technion in Haifa it is a short walk uphill to Central Carmel, the highest and most select district of Haifa. In this area is the Gan Ha'em Park, with its small Zoo and the Museum of Biology and Prehistory. Hanassi Boulevard (with the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art at No. 89) and Yefe Nof Street now run downhill, affording superb views over the city and the harbor and across the bay to Akko.
Bahai Shrine & Persian Gardens
Below Yefe Nof Street, in Hazionut Street, are the beautiful Persian Gardens, with the Bahai Shrine, whose golden dome dominates Haifa. It contains the tomb of the founder of the Bahai faith, which has become its central shrine.The founder of the faith was a Persian, Mirza Ali Mohammed, who in 1844 declared himself the Bab, the "Gateway" to God. After he was shot in Tabriz in 1850 his successor Mirza Hussein Ali, who took the name Baha-u-Illah, fled to the Ottoman Empire, where he proclaimed himself Imam in 1868. After being held in captivity in Akko for 24 years he died in 1892 and was buried near the present-day kibbutz of Shamerat, to the north of Akko. His followers secretly brought the remains of his predecessor Mirza Ali Mohammed from Persia to Palestine and in 1909 built his tomb in Haifa. The monumental dome over the tomb was completed in 1953.
On the other side of Hazionut Street, in carefully tended gardens, is a neo-classical building erected in 1957 to house the archives of the Bahai faith, which has spread to Europe and America.
A few hundred yards northeast of the Persian Gardens, at 26 Shabtai Levi Street, is the Haifa Museum, which since 1977 has included the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Ancient Art. The Museum also has departments of ethnography and folklore and a section devoted to Jewish ritual art. The collections of the Museum of Ancient Art include material from Caesarea and Byzantine mosaics from Shiqmona. The Museum of Modern Art displays pictures by Israeli and foreign (Western European, American, Japanese) artists from the 18th century to the present day. There are several rooms used for special exhibitions, an auditorium and a reading room. Illustrated lectures are given in the evenings.
The Carmelite Monastery is situated on Cape Carmel, on the western outskirts of Haifa. It is reached from the harbor by way of Allenby and Stella Maris Streets or from Gan Ha'em Park by way of Hanassi Boulevard and Tchernikovsky Street. It lies close to the Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) lighthouse.The first monastery built by the Carmelite order, founded on Mount Carmel in 1150, was destroyed in 1291 after the fall of Akko. After being rebuilt by Ahmed el-Jazzar in the late 18th century it was again destroyed in 1821 and once again rebuilt in 1828. It is dedicated to the Prophet Elijah and his disciple Elisha. The church contains paintings of scenes from their lives and a cedarwood figure of the Virgin with a porcelain head (1820), the Madonna of Mount Carmel.Steps lead down to a grotto which is believed to be either the dwelling or the tomb of Elijah. There is a small museum in a room adjoining the entrance to the monastery.In front of the monastery is the tomb of the wounded French soldiers who were killed on Ahmed el-Jazzar's orders in 1799.
Opposite the Carmelite Monastery in Haifa is a path leading down to Elijah's Cave (also known as the School of the Prophet), at the foot of the cape. This is believed to be the cave in which Elijah hid from the kings of Israel and has been described by Zev Vilnay as "the holiest Jewish site in Haifa". Elijah is revered as El-Khidr by the Muslims, who had a mosque here until 1948.
Opposite the Carmelite Monastery in Haifa is the upper station of the Cable Car, a cabin cableway running down to the sea. On the way down visitors are given a commentary on the leading buildings of Haifa.
Museum of Clandestine Immigration
Some 200m/220yds southeast of the lower cable car station in Haifa, at 204 Allenby Street, is the Museum of Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum. On the roof of the museum is the "Af Al Pi", an old tank landing craft which broke through the British blockade and brought illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine.
Next door to the Museum of Clandestine Immigration in Haifa is the Maritime Museum, with a collection of ship models, maps and charts, prints, etc., illustrating the history of seafaring and harbors in the Holy Land.
To the south of Haifa, on the road running along the crest of Mount Carmel, is the University of Haifa, founded in 1972. The most eye-catching feature is the 30-story Eshkol Tower, designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. From the top of the tower there are breathtaking views. Within the University complex is the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum, with a display of archeological material on the theme "The People of Israel and their Land" and a collection of Impressionist and Jewish painting.
Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa contains a collection of about 6,000 exhibits of Japanese art including paintings, sketches, books and statues.The museum also contains a library with around 2,500 books on Japanese subjects.
Allone Abba, 25km/15mi southeast of Haifa, is a moshav which was originally established by German settlers. It is reached on a road which turns left off the road to Nazareth 4km/2.5mi south of Qiryat Tivon. Originally called Waldheim, the settlement was founded in 1908 by members of the German Society of the Temple, who lived by farming, selling their produce in Haifa. The Germans were evacuated by the British authorities during the Second World War and the place was taken over by Israeli settlers. It was then renamed Allone Abba, after Abba Bardishev, who was dropped behind the German lines during the Second World War as a saboteur but was captured and executed. Some of the buildings of the original settlement have been restored, and the church has become the cultural center of the moshav.
The artists' village of En Hod, 15km/9mi south of Haifa on the western slopes of Mount Carmel, was founded in 1953 on the site of an abandoned Arab village by the Dadaist Marcel Janco. It is now occupied by 130 families, who form a village co-operative (agudat shitufi); at least one member of each family is an artist of some kind. The activities of the inhabitants cover a wide range: they include photographers, writers, actors, goldsmiths, painters and sculptors, who sell their works in various studios and galleries. There is also a museum mainly devoted to Dadaism.
Atlit is a large castle that projects into the Mediterranean Sea and the ruins can only be viewed from a distance. The castle was completed in 1218 for the Templars, who left it in 1291 to return to France.
Dor was conquered by Joshua in 1200 BC, and has a long and varied history. It is now a small Israeli settlement with a lovely beach and ruins of ancient Dor located to the north.
Map of Haifa Attractions