As the third largest city in Israel, Haifa has plenty to boast about. Rolling hills provide stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and a more distant view to Akko (or Acre). 19 perfectly manicured terraces, which make up the Bahai Gardens, rest on the northeast slope of Mount Carmel. The land is prime property. Thankfully this sacred treasure is preserved and shared with the public.
The grounds and surrounding buildings serve as the world center of the Bahai faith. The Shrine of the Bab is the focal point of the garden with its stately gold dome. When you consider what was achieved in Israel’s climate and topography, the gardens are extremely elaborate. However, the simplicity of the design and central symmetry make the garden undeniably photogenic.
Lush formal gardens follow a central axis through all of the terraces. The plant palette is relatively simple and includes: English Ivy, Santolina, Yucca and Palm trees. Crushed terra-cotta and decorative gravel are used for pathways and accents. The garden is filled with white globe lights which serve as a contrasting reminder of a prophet who was imprisoned for many years in total darkness. According to our guide, the many eagles and other statues in the gardens are merely decorative elements.
My favorite part of the garden was off to the side. It was much less formal with inviting paths that curved around the slopes of Mount Carmel. Unfortunately, the public is not allowed to stray off of the central path. Many of the steepest grades in the garden were planted heavily with what appeared to be English Ivy. I snapped this shot to show their soil retention system which is critical to this hillside garden. Beyond these little patches where the plants need to grow in, the gardens are maintained magnificently.