Bahai News - Haifa gets ready for Baha'i botanical wonder
Haifa gets ready for Baha'i botanical wonder
By David Rudge
(May 14) - More than half a million people a year are expected to visit
the Baha'i terraced gardens on Mount Carmel in Haifa which are to be
inaugurated next Tuesday, May 22, prior to being opened to the public
on June 4.
Baha'i officials are already formulating a system of guided tours in
conjunction with Haifa municipality and the Jewish-Arab Beit Hagefen
Center to try and avoid a crush of visitors to the site which is being
dubbed one of the great wonders of the modern world.
"We want to be able to accommodate all the visitors in such a way
that their tour of the gardens and shrine will be a rich experience and
to avoid frustration from overcrowding," said Douglas Samini Moore,
director of the Baha'i world center's office of public information.
"Already we have some 300,000 visitors a year to the gardens and
shrine which are open to the public and we expect this to reach well
over 500,000 once all of the terraces are opened," said Moore.
"The message we are trying to get across to people is to be patient
and perhaps not try to all come to visit in the first few days after the
public opening, because the gardens are going to be here for a long,
long time." Guides, who are currently undergoing training at Beit
Hagefen, will be stationed at the entrances to the upper and lower
terraces and each one will be responsible for a group of up to 50 people
at one time.
In this way, Baha'i officials expect it will be possible to cater to
around 2,000 visitors a day who will be given guided tours of all the
gardens, or parts of them, with rest stops and explanations about what
A reservations system is being set-up for people to book places on
the guided tours in advance and will be handled initially by the Haifa
Tourist Board. Telephone numbers will be published in newspaper
advertisements at the end of the month.
As part of preparations for the official inauguration next Tuesday,
Sderot Ben-Gurion between Rehov Hagefen and Rehov Allenby was closed
from yesterday to enable the construction of a huge temporary
amphitheater with seating for up to 4,000 people.
Diversion signs have been erected. Further information about traffic
arrangements can be obtained from the municipality's 106 information
center and from Egged 04-8549131 regarding alternative bus stops and
The roads will remain closed until May 27 to allow time for the
stands to be dismantled after the official opening ceremony which itself
will be broadcast live to Baha'i followers throughout the world.
The $250 million terraced gardens and administrative buildings
complex has taken 10 years to complete and has literally changed the
north-facing slope of Mt. Carmel from the renovated German Colony in the
downtown district to Rehov Yafeh Nof on the peak.
The gardens, rising up the mountain for a full kilometer, include 19
terraces with marble balustrades, sculptures, pools, fountains and water
channels with re-cycling systems.
Money for the project was raised by donations from the nearly six
million Baha'i followers throughout the world. The Haifa complex is the
world administrative center of the faith.
The center sent flyers to every household in the city informing
residents about the traffic changes and the reasons for the diversions
and street closures.
"We thought it important to let the people know in advance what is
happening so that we can approach the official opening of the gardens
with a feeling of good will and understanding," Moore added.
©Copyright 2001, Jerusalem Post
Page last updated/revised 051401
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