Written by Zvika Gasner Koheleth 11-March-2019, 01-April-2021, Photography by Angela Hechtfisch
Haifa General Info
Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel built on the slopes of Mount Carmel and located on the north coastal sea, with a population of approximately 300 thousand people. The city of Haifa forms part of the Haifa metropolitan area. Haifa is home to 2nd biggest commercial port in the country, and it is the Bahá’í World Centre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a destination for Bahá’í pilgrims) alongside the city of Aco (Acre).
The city has a history spanning more than 3,000 years. The Haifa area has changed hands: being conquered and ruled by the Canaanites, Israelites, Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, the British, and nowadays as a part of the State of Israel. The city is a major seaport located on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa. The city is located 90 km. north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. The city has two highly respected academic institutions, Haifa University and the Polytechnic, which are located in Haifa, in addition to the largest k-12 “Reali School”. The city plays an important role in Israel’s economy. It is home to “Matam”, one of the oldest and largest high-tech parks in the country; Haifa also owns the only underground system naming “the Carmelit”. Haifa Bay is a center of heavy industry, petroleum refining, and chemical processing. The 2 major football clubs are Maccabi Haifa FC & Hapoel Haifa, with “Sammy Ofer” as a home ground facility of 30,000 spectators. Maccabi is 1 of the 4 biggest clubs in Israel in the aspect of popularity and local championships won.
Haifa’s Bahai’s garden
We started our vacation from our “Golden crown hotel” that is located at the begging of the old German colony, a 19-century German Templers pilgrim village. The Goldne’s crown sea view at the harbor is wonderful and also is the backside with an exceptional view of the Bahai’s garden. “Ben Gurion”, the main street at the old renovated German colony, is filled with nice restaurants and cafe’s opened during the day and night. From the bottom of the street, you can look straight up to the 19 terraces with 1 km. length of the unbelievable Bahai gardens with the palace at its center. The gardens are entry-free BUT can be held only with a guided tour. The English tour takes place 7 days a week, exactly at noon, and it does NOT include the inner palace. Also, the gardens are located on the mountain slope therefore it is recommended to enter at the top entrance and progress downhill. When reaching the bottom of the garden you had better take a bus (8 Shekels a person) uphill to return to your (car?) starting point. In the 45 minutes guided tour you will receive some general information about the Bahai religion with its 6 million worldwide followers. The top entrance to the gardens is located at “Lui promenade” and the promenade is a must-see bird view of the city bay during the day and especially at night.
Haifa’s “Masada” street
Another attraction in the city is the “Masada” street which is supposed to be the high spot for hipsters, BUT it is fairly small and a little disappointing. Still, trendy cafe shops with graffiti art fill the street. Do NOT arrive at “Masada” street on Saturday because most of the businesses are closed. The city is famous for the coexistence of Jewish and Arabas living side by side, and it is a multicultural haven. Between the 6th to 30th of every December, the “Holiday of all holidays” festival is being celebrated at the German colony as a union of the 3 major religious holidays: The Jewish’s Hanuka, Christian’s Christmas, and the Muslim’s Id Il fitter/Ramadan. The local’s toleration towards one another, indifferent to one’s religion or belief is widely known. In general, the locals are friendly and down to earth, restaurant prices are cheaper than other cities, and it is highly recommended to come in the summertime where you may enjoy the famous beaches water.
“Ein-Hod” artists Village
Once driving back south towards Tel Aviv we had a stopover at “Ein Hod” artists Village that is located off Road #5 old Tel Aviv-Haifa Highway on a hill overlooking the Middetraine beaches of Atlit fortress.
Established in 1953 on a concept led by Marcel Janco, one of the founders of the “DaDa” art movement. “DaDa” derived its philosophy from the “Ready-Made” art stream in Europe’s early 20’s century, and later from the more controversial avant-garde. “DaDa” Still has a measurable impact on the contemporary Israeli avant-garde stream nowadays.
Marcel Janco’s memory is principally maintained in “Ein-Hod” art museum that was reopened and grew to include a permanent exhibit of Janco’s work.
The building of Israel’s 1st and only artists’ village provides its residents with a supportive and creative framework, for people who paint, create modern art, musicians, writers, and theater creators. The village is beautiful. It is possible only to walk through the well-kept ever greenery that surrounds the private household of its residents. Though, because walking is up and down the hill it is mostly recommended to wear comfortable shoes. The “Dona Rosa” restaurant that serves meat in Argentinian style was lovely and bohemian.