The Haifa city council last week recommended that the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declare the Bahai center and gardens in Haifa a World Heritage site. UNESCO has already declared the old city of Acre, Masada, and the White City of Tel Aviv World Heritage sites. The choice of a world heritage site requires a recommendation from the local UNESCO committee to the international committee, which decides whether to classify a given site as a World Heritage site.
Bahai Secretary General Albert Lincoln made a presentation to the city council. He described the history of Bahai sites in Israel as a whole.
The founders of the Bahai religion, which started in Iran 150 years ago, are buried in Haifa and Acre. Construction of the Bahai center in Haifa began in 1909, and was finished in 1953. The gardens surrounding the site, which stretch from the Carmel hills to the German Colony, were completed in 2001.
2.5 million tourists and pilgrims have visited the Bahai center and gardens. There are five million Bahai believers worldwide, of whom 650 live in Haifa and work as volunteers in the Bahai center in Haifa. The Bahai movement has established a Chair for Baha'i Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, headed by Prof. Moshe Sharon.
Published by Globes [online] -l www.globes.co.il - on October 24, 2003