The Bahá’í Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee, recognized for their profound spiritual meaning and the exceptional testimony, bear to the strong tradition of pilgrimage in the Bahá’í Faith.
Included in WHS list in 2008, and inscribed under criteria (iii) and (vi), this site demonstrates integrity linked to the history and spiritual home of the Bahá’í Faith and also the authenticity as tangible expression of the body of doctrine and system of values and beliefs that form the Bahá’í Faith.
This sacred site of outstanding universal value include the two most Holy places of great meaning in the Bahá’í Faith associated with its founders, the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, together with their surrounding gardens, associated buildings and monuments. These two shrines are part of a larger complex of buildings, monuments and gardens at seven distinct locations in Haifa and the Western Galilee drawing a large number of pilgrims from around the world.
The Bahá’í Faith is a monotheistic religion that emphasizes the spiritual unity of all peoples. It was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in Persia in the nineteenth century and it is estimated that there are over five million Bahá’ís around the world. It proclaims that the founders of the world’s main religions – Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Krishna – all have been sent by God to educate humanity to the mankind.
Bahá’í Faith was originated in 1844 with the declaration of its Prophet-Herald, the Báb, in the city of Shíráz, Iran. The rapid spread of the new creed was met by savage persecution, and the execution of the Báb in 1850. After 15 years, the focal point of the Baha’i Faith moved to Western Galilee in 1868 when the Prophet- Founder of the Faith, Bahá’u’lláh was banished to Acre, then a remote part of the Turkish Empire, by the Ottoman Sultan. Bahá’u’lláh spent the remaining 24 years of his life here compiling the sacred scriptures that are the foundation of the Baha’i Faith and establishing a spiritual and administrative centre for the religion.
In 1909, the mortal remains of the Báb were brought from Iran and were buried in a very simple mausoleum in the city of Haifa. Later on, this site was greatly enlarged in 1953 and adorned with a golden dome. Nowadays, the site approaches through a kilometre-long garden in Haifa.
The dome of the Shrine of the Báb comprise of 12,000 fish-scale tiles of various shapes by employing an innovative process involving fire-glazing over gold leaf. The Shrine is decorated with scarlet and emerald green mosaics, a fire-gilded bronze symbol of the Greatest Name of the Bahá’í Faith at the four corners, and a multitude of intricate decorations and motifs.
The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh is situated in Bahji, near Acre. It is the most Holy Place for Bahá’ís and represents their direction of prayer. It has the remains of Bahá’u’lláh and is near the Mansion of Bahji, place where Bahá’u’lláh died. It is composed of a central area that contains a small, tree-filled garden surrounded by paths covered with Persian rugs. At the northwest corner of the central area, there is a small room where the remains of Bahá’u’lláh has been kept.