Haifa: City on the Port
Israel’s third largest city has the country’s largest port, a vibrant mix of Arabs and Jews and is the home of the World Center of the Bahai Faith. Surrounded by abundant nature sites, the city contains an interesting mix of modern neighborhoods and older districts; churches and mosques; mountain and sea. The city of Haifa is located on the slopes of Mount Carmel, perched above the scenic Mediterranean coastline.
With residents from the three largest religions as well as from various minority faiths, Haifa is also a symbol of outstanding co-existence and tolerance. Nine percent of the population consists of Arabs (Moslems and Christians) who reside mostly in three neighborhoods: Khalisa, Abas and Wadi Nisnas.
The Christian presence in Haifa, with its many churches, also contributes to the city’s image. A Maronite church is located next to Kikar Paris (Paris Square); adjacent to that is the Carmelite church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah; and not far from there is Saint Mary’s Greek Orthodox Parish Church. The Sacre Coeur Catholic School on Allenby Street includes statues of Saint Mary. Atop the Carmel, holy to Christians, is the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery. In the monastery’s Baroque-style church is a cave considered by Christian tradition to be the grave of the Prophet Elijah.
Israel’s only Ahmadi Muslim community is based in Haifa’s Kababir neighborhood. The Ahmadiyya is an Indian sect of Islam, founded in the late nineteenth century, which promotes peace among nations and opposes religious coercion. Haifa’s reputation for tolerance extends to the Bahai Faith whose World Center, famous for its gardens, is located in the city. It includes the “Hanging Gardens” along the Louis Promenade and the gold-domed Shrine of the Bab, the burial place of the Bab, the founder of the faith.
Haifa also boasts many institutions devoted to culture, art and science, including: the Dagon Grain Silo; the National Maritime Museum; the National Museum of Science and Technology; the Haifa Museum of Art; the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum; the Railway Museum; the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art; the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum; and the Israel Oil Industry Museum.
Haifa is also home to the Technion, Israel’s first institution of higher education, and to the University of Haifa, attended by students from Israel and overseas. The university is situated near the Carmel Nature Reserve, which includes the Khai-Bar Wildlife Preserve where nearly extinct animals are reintroduced to nature.