On a slope of Mount Carmel in Haifa, the site of Baha’i Shrine and its gardens does not go unnoticed. Marble and granite walls, beautifully kept gardens, we observe a golden dome that overhangs this magnificent site. The Baha’i site is a spectacularly colorful attraction for its visitors.
This place of pilgrimage is situated not far from the St.Elias Cathedral of the Melkite Catholic, the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery, and the the Church of The Holy Heart. It should be noted that the northern Israeli city of Haifa is the international headquarters of the Baha’i faith. More or less in the middle of the 19th century, this religion began at the time of persecution in Persia. They believe in the veracity and uniqueness of all religions and claim that the messengers of God are such that Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were sent at different times in our history with doctrines varying according to varying social needs but bringing back presumably the same universal message. The most recent of these celestial masters, according to Baha’is, was Baha’u’llah (1817-92), whose arrival was announced by the Bab known as Siyyid Al Muhammad.Exiled by the Turkish authorities to Acre (Akko), Baha’u’llah wrote his doctrines and died in peace a Bahji House.
Concerning the Bab, the remains of his body were hidden for several years after his death as a martyr before a firing squad in 1850. Finally, the remains of the Bab were secretly transported to the Holy Land. In Haifa in 1890, Baha’u’llah at the place of Mount Carmel where the remains of the Bab to be laid, in a suitable tomb. At first, the tomb of the Bab was housed in a simple six-room stone building, built in 1899-1909. In 1921, chief Baha’i ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (eldest son of Baha’u’llah) was also buried in the sanctuary. Shoghi Effendi a major extension to the sanctuary designed in neoclassical style by architect William Sutherland Maxwell in 1948-53. It was added in 1975-83, the Headquarters of the Universal House of Justice, where the governing body of the Baha’i Faith meets. Also neo-classical in style, it was designed by architect Husayn Amanat. Architect Fariborz Sahba supervised and designed the Baha’i Gardens (a.k.a. Terraced Gardens) between 1990 and 2001. In 2008, UNESCO appointed the Baha’i Shrine as a World Heritage Site with the Shrine and Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre.
Baha’i Shrine and Gardens
In the gardens of Haifa, the great dome-shaped sanctuary of the Bab contains the tomb of Baha’u’llah. Adorned with flowers and gold almost in all its corners, the tomb gives a spectacular view on the gardens of the domain. The visual symbol of the Baha’i accent on a world religious unit, whether it be the columns of classical Roman granite, the Corinthian capitals of ancient Greece, or the arches with the Oriental flavor, the sanctuary is a mixture of Western and Oriental. We have higher court in the building of the Baha’i International Archives in the Corinthian style, inspired by the Parthenon, and the Baha’i Universal House of Justice, with 58 Roman marble columns and hanging gardens. These administrative buildings are not open to tourists. All Baha’i buildings are oriented towards the city of Acre, the burial place of Bahá’u’lláh. The beautiful gardens were originally planned by Shoghi Effendi, the late Guardian of the Faith, and they have recently undergone a massive restructuring and putting them on the horticultural map of the world. The Baha’i Gardens are now a geometric waterfall of hanging gardens and terraces up to Ben Gurion Boulevard; a gift of visual pleasure to the city that gives the Baha’i religion its home and headquarters.
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