The city of Haifa, Israel’s largest northern metropolis, is located on the slopes of Mount Carmel above the Mediterranean coastline. Haifa's attractive combination of sea and mountains has made the city, like Jaffa, a popular target for marauders and conquerors throughout ancient and early modern history. The Haifa bay serves as one of the country's foremost industrial centers with a busy port and oil refineries. In recent years, Haifa has become known as a high-tech center, with many local start-ups as well as big-name international firms setting up shop in the area. Haifa is also home to the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, considered the destination for studying the sciences here in Israel.
Haifa’s ethnic diversity contributes to its unique character as a city, with Jews, Arabs, Druze and members of the Bahai faith living and working together in relative harmony. When visiting the city on your Jewish Heritage tour, walk through one of Haifa’ s many mixed neighborhoods – for example, the Hadar on the lower part of the Carmel -- where Jews and Arabs live side by side.
The greater Haifa region includes several Druze villages, including the towns of Daliyat el-Carmel and Isfiya, which are major tourist destinations. The large marketplace in the center of Daliyat el-Carmel boasts traditional Druze and Arab trinkets and a wide range of ethnic restaurants with some of the best Arab food found in Israel, making it a focal point of any trip to Haifa. Daliyat el-Carmel also has a memorial center for fallen Druze soldiers who have lost their lives protecting the state of Israel, as well the shrine of Abu Ibrahim — the faith's spiritual leader.
Haifa, from the Carmel to Wadi Nisnas
Haifa is home to a variety of neighborhoods that exemplify the ethnic mix and historic importance of this port city. Walk through resurgent neighborhoods on the lower part of the hill, such as the Hadar district and catch the thriving nightlife on the Carmel. Admire the Bauhaus buildings in both areas, the restored Templar buildings of the German Colony and the Arab architecture of Wadi Nisnas.
The German Colony is one of the more beautiful residential neighborhoods in Israel, with a history dating back to 1868. Built by German Templar families who arrived in Haifa in the mid-19th century, it was the first neighborhood in Israel to be built according to a pre-existing plan. The Templar's meticulous planning meant the creation of an urban center on the Carmel that survives to this day, the Hadar area. Enjoy the neighborhood’s magnificent views of Haifa’s bay and harbor as you tour the city.
Haifa may not have Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus provenance or Jerusalem’s golden glow, but it sports a significant amount of architecture from the pre-state area, particularly in the Hadar and older sections of the Carmel.
Save an evening for walking the revitalized stretch of Massada Street (you can take Haifa's Carmelit subway to get there), the newly hip neighborhood that is dotted with small antique shops and cafes and currently appeals to students and singles. Or, take your pick of restaurants along the Moriah Street in the Carmel neighborhood, Haifa’s busiest nightlife area for all locals.
Don’t miss the equally compelling Wadi Nisnas, a predominantly Arab neighborhood that is an interesting mix of architectural styles and periods, winding roads and colorful street life. Stop in at Beit Hagefen – the Arab-Jewish Center for co-existence education and tolerance in Haifa. Sign up for one of their walks and enjoy an in-depth, intimate tour of the area.
One of the local Haifa wonders, the Carmelit, an underground funicular cable car system, is a fascinating lesson in underground cable mechanics, urban infrastructure and public transportation. Limited in its scope and passenger capacity – it’s located on the lower part of Mount Carmel and is only 1.1 miles in length – it is still in use today, and with the Hadar neighborhood’s gentrification, getting a bit more ridership than when the Carmelit was first restored back to regular use after a brief hiatus from 1986-1992. Ride it for your own urban Haifa experience.
A city of industry and culture, Haifa has museums that cater to everyone’s interests. From the Haifa Museum of Technology, Science and Space to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art and the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, there’s something to interest every member of the group. Educate, inspire and enjoy.
The Haifa Museum of Science, Technology and Space
Bring the kids for a hands-on day of fun and learning at the Haifa Museum of Science, Technology and Space. Children will learn how sound waves are created, what is white noise, how eyes perceive color, what are the electric powers that make magnets work, and much more. The museum is located on the grounds of the Technion – feel free to stroll the grounds of this world-class university.
The Haifa Museum of Art
Located in a historic building in Wadi Nisnas, the Haifa Museum of Art houses a collection of mostly contemporary art by both Israeli and international artists.
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
The only museum in the Middle East dedicated solely to Japanese art, the Tikotin Museum has a collection of artifacts, prints, carvings, illustrated works and carvings as well as workshops and a library.
The Mane-Katz Museum
Affiliated with the artists of the Jewish School of Paris, Emmanuel Mane-Katz visited Israel yearly although he lived his life in Paris. Mane-Katz willed his extensive collection of Judaica as well as many of his own works to the city of Haifa, which are housed in a building on Mount Carmel.
National Maritime Museum
Absorb 5,000 years of maritime history at this fascinating museum. Haifa’s
history as a port is told alongside the legends of the Mediterranean and Red Seas; both important shipping routes and destinations for the ancient and modern peoples of the Middle East.
Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum
Thrill to the stories of Israel’s daring during pre-state times. Learn about the struggle against British Mandate immigration policies and the efforts to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country. Understand what life was like in a detention camp in Cyprus, as the European war refugees waited to be allowed admittance into Palestine.
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