The Carmel mountain range offers a lovely green respite along Israel’s northern coastline. With fertile vegetation, breathtaking landscape and a moderate climate, Mount Carmel is a wonderful area to visit and venture along its hiking and biking trails.
Down on the Range
When approaching Haifa from the south, take some time to admire the picturesque town of Zichron Yaakov, set on the rising slopes of the Carmel range. One of Israel’s first Jewish settlements, Zichron was founded in 1882 and is home to the Carmel-Mizrahi winery, originally the brainchild of philanthropist Baron Edmund James de Rothschild. Stop in for a wine tasting and stroll around this charming historic town – complete with landmarked buildings, cafes, local crafts galleries and European flair.
A Historical Region
Mount Carmel is also a place of ancient and modern history. It has archeological finds that record earliest human life, as well as caves and grottos in which, according to the Book of Kings, the prophet Elijah resided. Elijah’s connection to Jewish traditions of the Messiah made this part of the world important to both the Carmelites as well as the Bahai sects, both of whom built centers for their faiths on Mount Carmel.
Religion on Mount Carmel
Beyond the significance of Mount Carmel to Jews, this region bears religious meaning to two other faiths. Following the legend of the Biblical prophet Elijah, several Catholic denominations have made Elijah the mainstay of their religion. One sect, the Carmelites, originated in England around the 12th century, and arrived in Palestine as Crusaders. They settled on top of Mount Carmel, building a monastery on the ruins of what is believed to have been the dwelling place of Elijah. The Carmelite monastery is still in existence today, run and operated by the Carmelites and open to visitors year round.
Another religious order that calls Mount Carmel its sacred home is the Bahai faith, which has built its sanctuary and center in the midst of beautifully groomed gardens at the top of the mountain range, in Haifa.
A Natural Sanctuary
The Carmel also has many trails for biking, hiking, walking, birdwatching and enjoying the wonderful views. As host to the largest nature reserve in the country, the wildlife preserve has restored homes for animals and birds that had become extinct in the area.
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