September 8, 2007
Culinary and cultural riches await visitors to the Galilee
(Page 2 - Previous Page)The wall of the visitor's center is covered with pictures of the sheikh and 20th century notables: David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Jimmy Carter.
Naji Abbas, who lives near the entrance to Julis, claims that his father was the first to serve in the Israeli army in 1948. In honor of his parents, he has planted a marvelous, fountain-filled garden in his backyard called Fountains of Faith. He has opened it to the public for strolling, relaxing and meditating -- and also for wedding portraits, for which he charges a fee of NIS 100.
The Sultan's Feast: (50) 763-7130, (4) 998-3629
Sheik Tareef Visitors' Center: (4) 996-4097
Gardens of Faith: (52) 431-8414
In Israel, the Baha'i faith is most famous for its stunningly landscaped administrative headquarters in Haifa, where the prophet-herald of the faith, the Báb, is buried at the Shrine of the Báb. But the religion actually took root in Acre.
The founder of the Baha'i faith, Baha'u'llah, an early follower of the Báb, declared himself in 1863 to be the messenger of God foretold by the Báb. He was banished across the Middle East, until he was thrown into the Acre prison by the Ottomans. When he was released under nominal house arrest, he remained in Acre to continue documenting and revealing his message of monotheism and global unity. Now 6 million Baha'is are spread throughout 200 countries. Only about 700 Baha'is live in Israel at any given time, where they care for Bahai landmarks and welcome pilgrims.
The Bahji Mansion in Acre, the burial place and Shrine of Baha'u'llah, is the focal point of Bahai prayer. Its structure is more modest than the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, built by Udi Khammar, a prominent Acre resident in the 19th century, but the gardens bear the beauty, geometry and lushness that has become a signature of the Baha'is. A visitors' center at the mansion offers a brief history of the religion, including key figures, teachings.
Haifa Baha'i Gardens: (04) 831-3131
Places to Stay
Many members of this agricultural moshav, founded in 1950, have traded in their hoes and tractors for beds and hot tubs. With the decline in agriculture in recent years, the moshav has transformed itself into a tourist village, offering 70 guest homes run by 15 families, including the Ya'ari family's three imported Finish wooden cabins set in a carefully designed tropical garden. The atmosphere of "Derech Hashenhav," as it is named, is not only beautiful and homey, but erotic. The only babies allowed on the premises are those being conceived. The soundproof cabins are decorated with roses, and the large hot tub is placed conveniently next to the bed. Each guest home also features soaps, treats, wine and every amenity a couple should need. Scrumptious breakfasts are served in the Ya'ari home.
B"&"B NIS 480 (weekdays), NIS 1,200 (two-night weekend stay).
Moshav Reception: (04) 9822261
Derech HaShinhav (Amalya Ya'ari): (04) 982-2253, (052) 828-0953.
Shalom Plaza Hacienda Forestview
While the north is replete with cozy, private guesthomes, those seeking a hotel experience, whether to accommodate kids or an event, can opt for Hacienda, which preserves a lodge atmosphere amid deluxe four-star amenities. Located within the forests of the Western Galilee, between Ma'a lot and Kfar Veradim, the campus includes five buildings and 140 suites sprawled over 70 dumans. The main drawback is the price, which is a little more expensive than some of the cozier, private cabins in the region.
B"&"B NIS 780 (weekdays); NIS 720 (per day, minimum two-night weekend stay). (04) 957-9000, http://www.shalomplaza.co.il
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