Haifa

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Haifa is the biggest city port at Israel

Major attractions: Bahai Gardens and Shrine, Elijah’s Cave, Wadi Nisnass, beach, “Festival of Festivals” and International Film Festival

Known as Israel’s largest “mixed city,” Haifa is a bustling community of Jews, Christians and Muslims proud of their coexistence. The “Festival of Festivals,” held annually for a month in December and celebrating Chanukah, Christmas and Ramadan, welcomes visitors from all walks of life to relish in a multi-cultural jamboree of performing arts, handicraft and dishes to delight the palette. The Haifa International Film Festival is renowned world-wide, and there is a multitude of things to see in the city above the sea year-round, including the Bahai Shrine and Gardens, recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

A major seaport and the largest city in the northern part of Israel, home to nearly 270,000 residents, Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and was central in the country’s history even before the British Mandate. It was a city where Arab and Jewish intellectuals alike met in cafes and for congresses over the centuries, but is particularly remembered as the home of poets such as Makhmoud Darwish, Emile Habibi and the recently assassinated actor and theatre director Juliano Mer. Modern Israeli theatre, lead by Joshua Sobol and Nola Chilton and many other playwrights found a warm home at the Haifa National Theatre where new, experimental, sometimes controversial scripts were given a stage during the early years of the country’s growth. The city also has a fine symphony orchestra, serving the community and guests with classical, big-band and music-theatre programs.

Phoenicians, Hebrews, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British and Israelis have all left their imprint on the city which is a kaleidoscope of history, architecture, and cultures. Haifa celebrates cultures the world-over, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art being just one of many examples. Being a port city, the National Maritime Museum is situated in Haifa, as is the National Museum of Science, the city being the home of the world-famous Technion University.

Few visitors leave Israel without enjoying the majesty of the Bahai Temple, but these famous gardens and the Bahai sect are certainly not the only religious landmarks found in Haifa;. the Al-Istakalel Mosque , Saint Mary’s Greek Orthodox Parish Church, a Maronite church and the Stella Maris Church and Monastery (considered to be the site where the prophet Elijah is buried), are just a few of the sacred places used by residents and appreciated by visitors.

The foot of the singular sensation of the Bahai Gardens continues down the road to the German Colony, established by the German Templars in the 19th century to create a Christian presence in the Holy Land. Nowadays, it is the most frequented stop for cuisine of all kinds, within walking distance of Wadi Nisnas. The wadi neighborhood, famous for peaceful coexistence between 8,000 Jewish, Christian and Muslim residents, became known internationally by the Sami Michael novel “Trumpets in the Wadi,” which centers on a beautiful love story between an Arab boy and a new immigrant Russian girl.

With a magnificent view of the Haifa Bay and the coastline towards Lebanon from atop the Carmel Mountain, a winding drive down to the water reaches a bathing beach for sun and surf lovers.

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