As Israel’s third largest city, one of its prettiest, and a destination that is continually innovating and reinventing itself, Haifa has much to offer to all kinds of visitors. It boasts not only the country’s largest port, but also superb beaches, fascinating cultural sites such as the world-famous hanging Baha’i Gardens, and a pleasant mix of modern neighborhoods and older districts, churches and mosques, mountains and sea.
Home to some of Israel’s finest and most unusual museums, Haifa sets itself apart as a cultural and artistic capital. Four of the most recognized cultural institutions in the city are the Haifa Art Museum, the National Maritime Museum, The Hect Museum at the University of Haifa and the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art (see sidebar, right).
Of all of Haifa’s attractions, the most picturesque and the city’s crown jewel is the Baha’i World Center, an expansive and well-designed complex on the slope of the Carmel, famous for its magnificent and meticulously pruned gardens. At its center is the impressive, newly re-furbished gold-domed Shrine of the Báb, which is the burial place of the Báb, the founder of the faith. Visitors can enjoy some delightful spots while strolling through its beautiful gardens by day, but with the special lighting, evening visits provides equal pleasure and a peaceful, romantic atmosphere.
Those interested in experiencing the city by foot will enjoy the “Step Tours,” four marked walking routes which begin on Yefe Nof [Panorama] Street and proceed down to the beach area. Other options are nature routes which descend the mountain along the rivers Ezov, Akhuza, Lotem and Si’akh. From the coast, tourists can go up the mountain via the cable car or via the Carmelit, Israel’s only subway, which ends at the Carmel district. Here, tourists should visit Gan ha’Em [Mother’s Park] and walk along the Louis Promenade with its spectacular view of the city, which hugs the sea.
As for major yearly events, the Haifa Film Festival features high quality local and international films, drawing directors, screenwriters, actors, and other film industry professionals, as well as thousands of visitors, who fill the streets and the auditoriums. Haifa is also home to the Technion, Israel’s most internationally famous institution of higher education, and to the University of Haifa, one of Israel’s top universities, attended by students from Israel and overseas. The University of Haifa is situated near the Carmel Nature Reserve, known for its year-round views of greenery and its invigorating beauty. The Khai-Bar Wildlife Preserve was established within the Carmel Nature Reserve to reintroduce nearly extinct animals to nature.
In all, Haifa, as north Israel’s largest city, is an eclectic mix of cultures, faiths, ages, entertainment, landscapes, and attractions that gives visitors a perfect example of the modern and booming Israel. If you haven’t visited Haifa, you are missing out on one of the best travel experiences Israel has to offer.
The Haifa Art Museum: Located in the German Colony’s Templar town hall dating from 1869, the Haifa Art Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits of modern Israeli and international art. Emphasis is placed on the unique quality of Haifa as an integrated Jewish-Muslim-Christian-Druze city. The museum also sponsors cultural activities, dance performances, concerts, and lectures.
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art: The Tikotin Museum, located on the summit of Mount Carmel, was created to introduce the Israeli public to Japanese art and culture. The museum,unique in the Middle East, hosts Japanese music concerts, lectures by experts on East Asia, and evenings dedicated to events, ceremonies and festivals
of Eastern Asian origin.
The National Maritime Museum: The National Maritime Museum relates the history of Israel as a country bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Exhibitions include artifacts and documents about the ports, beaches, the movements of ships to and from Israel, and the history of its seafaring. The exhibits express the connection between humankind and the sea, and the history of seafaring people through works of art.
The Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa: The Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa was inaugurated in 1984. The Permanent Archaeological Exhibition includes artifacts representing the material culture of the Land of Israel in ancient times, while the Art Wing concentrates on impressionism and the work of Jewish artists of the School