The Bahai Gardens is the most popular attraction in Haifa. They are both free, stunning, and tell the story of the Bahai religion. Let’s begin exploring!
Map of the area:
The Three Entrances
The Bahai Gardens in Haifa comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The complex geometry is built around the axis connecting it with the City of Akko, which also has great historical and sacred significance for Bahais. At its heart stands the golden-domed Shrine of the Bab, which is the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahai Faith.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
The terraces start from Ben Gurion street and end on Yafe Nof street. And there is one additional entrance on Hatzionut Avenue. Each entry point allows limited access, and you can not go all the way by yourself. If you want further access, then you will have to join a tour.
Here is a list of the entries:
- The Main Entrance is located at 80 Hatzionut Avenue. It is the middle one, and through it, you can access the Shrine of the Bab, the temple with the golden dome. While there, you can also visit nearby Ursula Malbin’s Sculpture Garden.
- The lower entrance is located in the German Colony, more specifically Ben Gurion street.
- Upper entrance at Yafe Nof street is part of Louis Promenade, and it offers breathtaking views of the whole bay.
And in this post, we are going to visit all of them.
In this section, I will mention where I usually park when visiting all three entrances.
- Main Entrance: sometimes you can find parking along Sderot Hatsiyonut. But there are a few places. Thus I would suggest driving to Shnayim Be’ 2 November. There are usually many parking spaces along Shnayim Be’ November street.
- The lower entrance: finding parking along Ben Gurion street is pretty much mission impossible. Thus I usually drive to a paid parking lot (there are several along HaGanim street – keep in mind that it is a one-way street). Or park a little bit further away, like Derekh Yafo 104 and further including Tel Aviv street, and walk from there.
- Upper entrance: you can find parking at Yefe Nof Street, just a little bit further away, like Yefe Nof 40. Also, at Yefe Nof 46, you will see a street going uphill. It is a public parking lot.
If you have general questions regarding navigation and parking apps, then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.
The entrance to Bahai Gardens is free, and the tours are free as well.
The Gardens are open from 9:00 to 17:00 daily. But the gardens near the shrine with the shrine itself closes at 12:00. Also, the gardens are closed on Bahai holy days and Yom Kippur. In rainy weather, they may be closed temporarily.
Note: in any case, I would suggest checking the official site before visiting.
- Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and reaches your knees. Because of the pebbled paths and occasionally slippery pavements, wear comfortable shoes with good traction.
- Photography is permitted, except for the interior of the Shrines.
- Visitors can bring their bottles of water, but drinking other beverages, eating, chewing gum, and smoking is not allowed inside the gardens.
Walk-in tours are offered daily except Wednesdays. These tours are free of charge, and no reservation is required. The tours start at 45 Yefe Nof Street and last about 50 minutes. The tour ends at the main garden’s entrance on Hatzionut Avenue. Tours are offered in English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. Here you can find the walk-in tour schedule. And this is the timetable for May and June 2019.
Joining a Walk-in Tour
During 2019 we joined one of the walk-ins tours. And as I mentioned above, the tours start at 45 Yefe Nof Street and you have to come in modest clothes.
The tour starts near the top entrance and end near the main entrance. It means that you will be going down, and on your way, you will descend a little more than 900 steps. Thus, if you have bad knees, think carefully before joining the tour.
On the way, we made several stops. And on each one, our guide gave us some background information about Bahai faith, history, and gardens.
Keep in mind there is little shade, thus I would recommend visiting during pleasant weather.
The descent to the Temple (well almost to the Temple, as we were on the other side of the street) took us about 45 minutes.
Then we headed to the visitor information center. And there we saw a short movie telling the history of the Bahai.
And that was the end of our tour. To return to the top entrance, you can either take a bus (line #136 or #23) or walk. And you can not walk through the gardens. You have to use the streets. We decided to burn some calories, and the hike up at a moderate pace took us about 50 minutes.
Before getting to the gardens, here is a short introduction to the Bahai Faith.
The Bahai Faith is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of the Bab and Bahaullah, each of whom received a direct revelation from God. The Bahai Faith accepts all the other major world religions’ validity, but it is not a sector offshoot of any of them. Its independent character is reflected in a unique world-view and community structure anchored in its sacred scriptures, religious laws, and calendar.
Basic Bahai Belief
Bahais believe that the unique God, Creator of the Universe, has educated humankind all through history by sending the prophets or messengers, such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, as well as Krishna, Buddha, and Zoroaster, who established the world’s major religions.
Thus, Bahais believe that all religions come from the same source and are part of one ongoing educative process. Bahais recognize two prophets for this age, the Bab and Bahaullah.
The Báb – The Prophet-Herald
The Báb (Gate) was born as Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Iran in 1819. As a child, He showed signs of spiritual depth and wisdom beyond His years. At the age of only 24, the Báb announced Himself as a prophet or messenger of God during a period of intense messianic expectations in Iran.
He challenged the thinking of His time by forbidding violence and holy war (jihad), recognizing the equality of women, and encouraging science and education. Invoking scriptural prophecy, He claimed to be the herald come to announce and prepare the way for another messenger of God who would usher in the age of peace and justice promised in all religions.
After eighteen disciples, including one woman, had independently found their way to Him and accepted His claim, the Báb sent them out to spread His teachings. Within a short time, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, including some well-known religious leaders, were attracted to His message. Feeling threatened by His success, the clergy declared Him a heretic and instigated a wave of persecution, during which thousands of His followers were tortured and killed.
The Báb Himself was confined in isolated fortresses for three years before being executed in a public square in Tabriz, Iran, on 9 July 1850, an event witnessed by some ten thousand spectators and reported in the western press. Interrupting a conversation during which He was giving final instructions to one of His followers, guards took the Báb from His cell and suspended Him by ropes against the wall, forming one side of the square. Three rows of 250 soldiers each fired in succession, and when the smoke and dust had settled, the Báb was nowhere to be seen. After a frantic search, He was found in His cell, completing his instructions. When He had finished, He calmly announced to the guards that they could now carry out their mission.
The first regiment refused to repeat their act, so another one had to be summoned. This time, the bullets reached their target. The Báb’s remains were dumped outside the city and guarded by soldiers to prevent Him from receiving a proper burial. Despite this, His followers succeeded in removing His remains and hiding them in one place after another for fifty years, until they could be brought to the Holy Land and buried in the simple stone structure on Mount Carmel, which was later completed with a monumental superstructure and golden dome. For Bahá’ís, the beauty of the Shrine of the Báb and the lovingly-tended gardens that surround it are an answer to the suffering and injustices inflicted on Him.
Bahá’ú’lláh – The Prophet-Founder
Mirza Hussein Ali (1817-1892), later known as Bahá’u’ lláh (Glory of God), was born into a noble family from the Iranian province of Nur. Instead of following His father’s footsteps, a minister in the royal court, He chose to assist the poor and the sick. When the Báb announced His mission, Bahá’u’ lláh became one of His followers and a major figure in the movement. Like many others, this singled Him out for imprisonment and torture. In His writings, He relates how the announcement of His divine calling came to Him while He was confined in an underground dungeon in August of 1852.
All of Bahá’ú’ lláh’s property was confiscated. He and His family were expelled from their native land in 1853, never to return. The first stage of exile was Baghdad, where Bahá’u’ lláh stayed for ten years, two of which were spent wandering alone in Kurdistan’s mountains.
Before complying with an order from the Sultan of Turkey summoning Him to Istanbul, Bahá’ú’ lláh announced His divine mission to the followers of the Báb, most of whom accepted His claim and became Bahá’ís. After a few months in Istanbul, Bahá’u’ lláh was ordered to move on to Edirne in Turkey’s European part. At each stage of His exile, Bahá’u’ lláh earned the love and devotion of the people surrounding Him and the jealousy of the clergy and rulers. Finally, in 1868, the Turkish Sultan banished Him to ‘Akko, then a remote outpost of the Ottoman Empire used as a depository for political prisoners and other undesirables.
With time, the authorities’ initial hostility and people of ‘Akko changed to respect and affection. After nine years of confinement, first, in the citadel and then within the Old City walls, Bahá’ú’ lláh was allowed to move about freely and live in the countryside north of the city. The last twelve years of His life were spent in relative comfort in the mansion in the center of the Bahá’í Gardens in ‘Akko. When He passed away on 29 May 1892, at the age of 75, His remains were buried in a small building next to the mansion known as the “Shrine of Bahá’u’ lláh”. This is the place to which Bahá’ís all over the world turn their faces and their thoughts while reciting their daily prayers.
Throughout His life of imprisonment and exile, Bahá’ú’ lláh was occupied with the revelation of the sacred texts that came to Him in a constant flow, sometimes with such rapidity that no one could write them down. While still confined within the walls of ‘Akko, He formulated the fundamental laws and principles of His religion in a volume He called the “Most Holy Book” (Kitab-i-Aqdas).
He wrote to the secular and religious rulers of His day, asserting His authority as God’s messenger, urging them to make peace among themselves and rule over their subjects with justice and compassion, warning them of the consequences of their heedlessness, and in some cases predicting their downfall.
In addition to major works addressing theological and mystical subjects, He wrote thousands of letters to individuals in which He explained His teachings and offered personal counsel. In His testament, Bahá’u’ lláh appointed His eldest son as His successor and gave him the authority to interpret the teachings and settle differences of opinion to protect the community of His followers from dissension and disputes that could lead to schism.
Lower Entrance – German Colony
German Colony, specifically Ben Gurion street, is the lowest entry to Bahai Gardens. I have visited there numerous times, but till now, I did not have a photo from Sderot Ben Gurion street of Bahai gardens together with car trails. Thus, the following photos are from that shoot.
Bahai Gardens At Sderot Ben Gurion
You can get a great view of the Bahai garden terraces from Ben Gurion street. And since there are many restaurants where you can also get something to eat, you should be all set. 🙂
The only downside is that Bahai gardens, like many other places in Israel, it is closed during sunset hours.
The gardens were closed but I was able to fit the lens in between metal bars of the fence and to capture this:
When entering during the opening hours, you will be allowed the get on top of the first block of stairs. Further access is limited by gates.
The blue hour is over, and it is time to pack things. But before I finish the first part let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard about Hyperlapse? Check out my Hyperlapse of Bahai gardens.
Note: During The Holiday of Holidays festival German Colony is especially beautiful. Thus, if you got the change, I would advise visiting this area during the festival.
Main Entrance – Bahai Shrine (Temple)
The main entrance, which is also the entrance to Bahai Shrine, is located at 80 Hatzionut Avenue in Haifa.
Note that there is a security check at every entry, whether it is the Bahai shrine or the gardens. And when I came with a tripod, they did not allow me to take the tripod inside. They asked me to leave it at the security and walk only with my camera.
The shrine is the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahai Faith.
Photography is not allowed inside. But that is not a big loss since, despite the exterior, the interior is very plain.
Ursula Malbin Sculptures Garden
Near the main entrance to the Bahai Garden, you can find Ursula Malbin’s Sculpture Garden. And near it, there is a lovely viewpoint.
While scouting, several locals recommended another viewpoint. It was a simple spot with several benches. It is located within 5 min walk from the park at 12 Shnayim-November St. This is one of the best viewpoints in this area.
Upper Entrance – Yafe Nof Balcony
From the shrine, a five-minute drive will lead you to the viewing balcony at the top of the gardens (61 Yefe Nof Street). And here are several photos from there.
Yafe Nof Balcony is located on Louis Promenade. And now I will share with you two of my visits to the promenade.
Yafe Nof Balcony is located on Yafe Nof street. It is a part of Louis Promenade. You can get great views from Louis Promenade without getting into the balcony, and the advantage of the Promenade is that it is always open. Thus, you can shoot sunsets and sunrises as well.
Louis Promenade in Haifa is one of the most beautiful promenades in Israel. Though it is quite short, you can see a big part of the city from it. Among the things you can see are the Bahai gardens, Haifa port, and Haifa downtown.
There are always public restrooms at Louis Promenade. If you continue about thirty meters up the street from Yafe Nof Balcony, then you will see it to your right.
In 1992, Louis Promenade was established, thanks to the contribution of Paul and May Goldschmidt, Haifa residents, who desired to commemorate the memory of their son Louis, who was killed in a car accident, and who loved so much the magnificent views of Haifa.
The Promenade’s 400 meters stretch along Yefe Nof Street, from Nof Hotel to the upper entrance of the Bahá’í Gardens. Louis Promenade is located close to Carmel Center, with its cafes and restaurants, to the hotels and other attractions in the area. It integrates naturally into the area which attracts many tourists who enjoy the touristic abundance the area offers. It is evident that Haifa residents also stroll along the Promenade, enjoying the beautiful views it offers.
Many tourists integrate the visit to the Louis Promenade when arriving from the many tours departing from the upper entrance point of the Bahá’í Gardens, located, as said, in the Promenade.
I visited Louis Promenade many times and in this post, I will tell you about two of these visits.
Sunset At Louis Promenade
The promenade is located on the slope of Carmel mountain, and it is always open and free.
Sunrise at Louis Promenade
Sun Cal and other Preps
Instead of sleeping on a Saturday morning, I decided to watch the sunrise at Louis Promenade. And this is not easy for me since I prefer to sleep late. But, since I decided to make an effort, some preparations need to be made. I am not talking about preparing photo gear. Instead, I am referring to checking the sunrise time and sun location. I used suncalc.net to check the sunrise time and sun location. It is a pretty handy tool. After marking a spot on the map, you can see the sun’s location during each hour of the day using sliders.
After all the preparation I woke up and drove to witness the sunrise at Louis Promenade. And this is my first photo:
Wait. What? No, I did not wake up late. I arrived half an hour before the planned time, but it was already bright. At this point, I realized that I made a mistake. When I checked SunCalc, I looked at the sunrise time. Sunrise time is the time when you see the sun. But if you in an area with mountains, then at the moment when you see the sun peeking behind a mountain, everything is already bright (daylight).
Expectations Vs Reality
I prefer the earlier time when everything is still blue. If you also prefer the blue light, then check out twilight time and not sunrise time. Or, more specifically: astronomical twilight. Astronomical twilight is defined as when the sun is between 12 degrees and 18 degrees below the horizon.
As you can see the sun is starting to appear from behind the mountain:
Backlighting industrial zone:
And this is my favorite photograph from that shoot:
At this point, I decided to drive down to a viewpoint that is located next to the Bahai Temple.
I hoped for a photo of the sun behind the temple, but I wasn’t at the right angle 🙁
So instead, here is “Foggy morning”:
Bahaullah, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahai faith, resided during the final years at a mansion in Akko. His remains were laid to rest at a shrine, and today there is a big garden surrounding the area. Most people consider the gardens in Haifa as more impressive. But here is my guide to Bahai Gardens in Acre (Akko). After checking it, you can decide for yourself.
Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and reaches your knees. Because of the pebbled paths and occasionally slippery pavements, wear comfortable shoes with good traction.
The Bahai Faith is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of the Bab and Bahaullah.
There is no parking for visitors. But you can find nearby public parking. The parking section in this guide suggests parking places depending on the entrance you choose.
If you are visiting Haifa, the Bahai Gardens is a must-see. Moreover, it is probably the most popular attraction in Haifa. And that is for a good reason. They are simply stunning. Moreover, join a free tour to learn about Bahai and get more access. And check out my Hyperlapse of Bahai gardens.
Have you ever visited Bahai Gardens? Let us know in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional attractions nearby see the Haifa.
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.