Friday, June 7, 2013

The Baha'i Gardens

This morning we got up bright and early, hopped into our rental car, picked up a friend and took off for our first out-of-town adventure in Israel!  We made our way north to Haifa, Israel's deepest and largest port, to check out the Baha'i Gardens, and some Roman Ruins.  Our first stop was the Garden.  It is a very large garden, with 19 terraces (upper and lower sections) and a shrine in the middle.  The shrine holds the remains of the Bab, the founder of Babism, and forerunner to the Baha'i Faith. He was executed in Iran for such blasphemous ideas as gender equality and the possibility that maybe all religions are different facets of worshiping the same divine.  His relatives, including the founder of the Baha'i Faith, brought his remains here, to Haifa in 1909.  Over the years the site has grown into the incredible place it is today.  An interesting side note: In order to maintain their holy sites in Israel, the Baha'is have an agreement with the Israeli government not to proselytize in Israel and not to convert Jews.  Today the gardens are one of the most visited tourist sites in Israel, and they have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We thought we would be able to walk through the gardens, though this proved impossible.  We started in the middle with the Shrine of the Bab.

Over 100 full time gardeners tend to the gardens. 

How lucky!  I immediately found the cactus, of course.

Leaves on pebbles.  There is something very calming about this photo.


Ornate decorations en route to the shrine.

The Shrine of the Bab.

The Shrine was adorned with many symbols.

No more photos past this point.

 This sort of sums up the rest of our experience at the gardens.  We tried to go out into them, but we were met with blocks and obstacles the whole time.  Next we went to the very top to see if we'd have better luck there.
The view of Haifa from atop Mt. Carmel.

The gardens from the top.  Still couldn't get into them, but we were able to admire them at least.

Say cheese!

Signs, signs everywhere, but no way to get in!

We finally gave up trying to walk through the gardens.  Here is the street view.  They are very beautiful!

Instead we opted for brunch.  A good choice indeed!

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