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From the World Heritage inscription of the Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee:
The Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee are inscribed for their profound spiritual meaning and the testimony they bear to the strong tradition of pilgrimage in the Bahá’i faith. The property includes the two most holy places in the Bahá’í religion associated with the founders, the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, together with their surrounding gardens, associated buildings, and monuments. These two shrines are part of a larger complex of buildings, monuments and sites at seven distinct locations in Haifa and Western Galilee that are visited as part of the Bahá’i pilgrimage.
Unfortunately, I visited the Baha’i Gardens on a Baha’i holy day so the gardens were closed to visitors. I was able to take some photos from the top of the hill where the gardens are located (Mount Carmel) but that was it. If I am ever in northern Israel again I will make sure to return to the gardens to explore them more thoroughly.
The Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee was listed as a cultural site by UNESCO in 2008. This property consists of various structures that reflect the profound spiritual meaning of these structures. In addition, they bear testimony to the pilgrimage tradition of the Bahá’i faith. Within the property are two of the holiest places according to the Bahá’i religion: Shrine of Baha’u’llah (located in Acre) and Shrine of the Bab (located in Haifa).
Aside from these two shrines, the surrounding gardens, buildings, and monuments were also included in the property listing of UNESCO. The shrines were part of larger complexes that feature other important historical and cultural monuments in Haifa.
About the Bahá’i Faith
The Bahá’i faith is governed by a few basic principles that it lives by, especially those who are believers of this faith. According to the teachings of Bahá’i faith, there is only one God. Therefore, the theme of unity is an integral part of its teachings, which extends beyond belief in one God but also in the unity of humanity or that all men are created equal. According to the faith, the ultimate goal for man is to get to know God through prayer and reflection.
The Bahá’i teachings were first established in the mid-19th century. However, this kind of belief was still resisted during that time. It was only until 1921 when the faith spread throughout the world. When the faith reached the western world, it was already governed by an elected body at that time.
Bahá’i Holy Places
The Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee represent the faith and pilgrimage tradition in the region. As of 2016, there is an estimated 5 to 6 million Bahá’i worshippers in the world scattered to over 200 countries and/or territories. The designated UNESCO World Heritage Property consists of about 26 monuments and structures that are considered holy by this faith.
As mentioned above, there are two holy places recognized by the Bahá’i religion: Shrine of Baha’u’llah and Shrine of the Bab. The Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Acre is the former home of Baha’u’llah, one of the founders of this faith. This is where he also passed away and where his mausoleum is built on. Eventually, it was converted into a shrine and is now considered a holy site by its believers.
Another holy site for the Bahá’i religion is the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa. Bab is the original founder of the Bahá’if faith and his remains were brought to Persia (now Iran) at the turn of the 20th century. He was interred in a tomb on Mount Carmel with an overlooking view of Haifa. In 1953, expansion projects were done on the tomb and a golden dome was also built at the shrine. From the tomb, you will find terraced gardens that cascade down Mount Carmel.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel.