Nestled on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, the city of Haifa is a thriving metropolis beneath the beautiful slopes of Mount Carmel. Historically, Haifa has been a city where cultures have intermingled peacefully and today you will find almost equal numbers of Israeli Muslims and Jews with a smattering Christians.
The city had a reputation for many years as being the workhorse of the Israeli nation. The old saying went “Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays andHaifaworks.” The many factories that had filled the industrial area to the north of the city has gradually given way to technology companies and many global firms such as Microsoft, Google and IBM have major offices in the city.
Haifa is an extremely learned city, and alongside the University there are many well-curated museums and art galleries that give you the opportunity to explore Jewish and gentile culture and heritage from Israel and across the world.
Getting to Haifa
Traveling to Haifa is extremely easy. The Haifa airport has internal flights in Israel to Tel Aviv and Eilat, current international routes include Cyprus and Jordan with further plans for expansion.
The Haifa Port offers extensive sea connections, with many cruise ships and ferry services operating to and from Haifa.
Once you are in Haifa there are six railway stations and Israel’s only subway system “Carmelit”. The “Egged Bus Company” also offers extensive routes in Haifa.
Reuben & and Edith Hecht Museum
Located in the grounds of the University of Haifa, the Hecht Museum has a range of artefacts charting the history of the land of Israel from ancient times. With items dating back to the Canaanites through to the end of the Byzantine period, Hecht’s collection was gathered with the intention of demonstrating a material link between the Jewish people and Israel in a clear expression of Zionism.
The remains of an ancient ship, discovered off the coast of Maagan Michael, Israel, on display at the Hecht Museum
In addition to the archaeological finds in the collection, which include several rare and extremely well-preserved items from the Bronze Age in Israel, the museum has a collection of art from notable painters such as Manet, Monet and Van Gogh as well as Jewish art from the late 19th and early 20th century.
The museum is open seven days a week, closing early on Friday and Saturday.
National Museum of Science
With a large number of exhibits covering renewable energy, applications of chemistry in day-to-day life, genetics, mathematics and optical illusions, Haifa’s science museum is a great place for enquiring minds to explore.
The building in which the museum is based has an interesting story in itself. Designed by a German architect, erected under the command of Turkish administrators and built by Jewish and Arab labourers, the museum is a truly multicultural endeavour. In the grounds, you will find a palm tree planted by one Albert Einstein on his visit to the Israel Institute of Technology that resided in the building in 1923 when he visited.
Haifa Museum of Art
With a large collection of approximately 7,500 works of art by Israeli and international artists, Haifa’s Museum of Art makes for a fascinating visit.
With artists using media as varied as charcoal on paper, sculpture and video installations, art lovers will find a wide range of works to inspire and engage.
The current exhibition of contemporary Japanese art, Double Vision, begins with an installation in the grounds of the museum that you can’t miss. Kenji Yanobe’s “Yellow Suit” shows a man in a space suit standing at three metres tall.
Haifa Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Founded in 1949, Haifa Zoo and Botanical Gardens also includes a natural history museum. Located on the north slope of Wadi Lotem, the zoo is set against the spectacular backdrop of Mount Carmel and has a stunning view of the Mediterranean.
The zoo has a collection of over 100 different species of animals, including primates, predators and reptiles.
The green trail at Wadi Lotem, near the Zoo and Botanical Gardens
The beautiful gardens that form part of this urban nature reserve are worth the visit alone, with a walk along the Lotem Stream taking you through lush, green vegetation to the zoo and its tropical creatures.
With all Haifa’s main museums open daily, there’s plenty of time to make the most of your trip to Israel’s most intellectually interesting city.
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